Chris DeGeare spent the final five games of his rookie season in 2010 at left guard, playing in place of the injured Steve Hutchinson. He then opened training camp at right guard subbing for Anthony Herrera, who was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list after having surgery last November to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Coach Leslie Frazier indicated during the Vikings time in Mankato that when Herrera did return he would have to battle DeGeare for the starting job. But when Herrera was activated from the PUP on Monday, DeGeare suddenly was no longer being used exclusively at right guard. Instead, he was playing right tackle.
A fifth-round pick out of Wake Forest, DeGeare had played both tackle and guard in college. Tthe Vikings public stance on this Monday was they wanted to see how much position flexibility they have with the second-year player. If DeGeare is capable of playing multiple spots it makes him that much more valuable when the team is deciding on its 46-man game-day roster.
But could there be something else at work here? DeGeare has not been working with the first team at right tackle -- that job belongs to Phil Loadholt -- but it’s possible the Vikings want to see how DeGeare does at that spot.
If he proves capable, that could lead to a long-term plan that would have DeGeare playing right tackle and Phil Loadholt shifting to the left side. It's now pretty clear that when the Vikings signed Charlie Johnson as a free agent from the Colts that they knew he would end up replacing long-time left tackle Bryant McKinnie, but that doesn't mean that Johnson is defenitely the right guy for the job.
Johnson did not look terrible against Tennessee on Saturday, but he continues to have his hands full with Jared Allen in practice and the last thing the Vikings want is to have 34-year-old Donovan McNabb feeling consistent pressure from his blindside when the regular season begins.
There is a chance the Vikings are being proactive and coming up with a potential plan in case Johnson struggles. Frazier said a few weeks back that he wants to leave Loadholt at right tackle, but what else is he going to say at this point? Until, the move is made -- if it's made -- that's going to be his stance.
Loadholt, who is 6-foot-8 and listed at 343 pounds, is the anti-McKinnie. He came into camp in great shape and looking ready to rebound from a second season in the NFL that wasn’t as good as his first year. Loadholt played left tackle at Oklahoma so the job wouldn't be new to him if the decision is made to go in that direction.