Hartman: Familiarity should help Vikings offensive line

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 25, 2013 - 12:32 AM

All five starters return, after the drafting of Matt Kalil and the position switch of Charlie Johnson solidified spots.

One concern the Vikings won’t have going into the draft, unlike last year, is the addition of an outstanding left tackle for the offensive line.

The drafting of Southern California tackle Matt Kalil filled that opening and the shift of Charlie Johnson from left tackle to left guard means that the five offensive line starters will return intact. Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson looks for the offensive line to be one of the strengths of the team.

On Kalil, Davidson said: “He was obviously productive enough that people found him worthy of being in the Pro Bowl. But we’ve always been more about the Super Bowl than we are the Pro Bowl. We’re hoping to get him to the next step, and he’s eager to get even better at his position than he is now.

“Quite honestly he’s about exactly what I thought [he would be as a player]. He’s a pretty good player, pretty good chalkboard to start with, if you will. He has a lot of the tools that you look for at the position, he’s a really good athlete, but he’s still learning. He’s learning how to be efficient with his movements and play more productive at the position. I think he’s looking to ascend.”

On Johnson’s shift from left tackle to left guard: “Charlie has done well. He’s one of our leaders. He’s the leader in the offseason program, and that’s all we can ask for him right now. He’s looking for better ways to be a better guard for us and that’s all we can ask for out of him. … In my opinion, that’s not to say that he can’t play left tackle in a pinch, but ultimately he was more productive for us at guard than he was at tackle.”

Davidson pointed out how the addition of Kalil and the Johnson shift set up the team for a great 2012 season, and for years to come.

“We’re going into this year with really all five guys returning, which is a good thing,” Davidson said. “Like you talk about, to have those guys together is important. You’re always pushing to have five guys playing as one, and the best way to do that is to get guys where you don’t always have to get that communication out to be able to play well together.

“We’re always looking for depth, and like I said, we’re looking for competition, too. The starters are the starters that we have, but we’re always looking for people to push them.”

High on Sullivan

On reviewing the performance of the remaining three starters on the offensive line last year, Davidson said center John Sullivan makes his job easy because he’s easy to coach, smart as a whip and understands what the Vikings are trying to get done.

“Right now with him, we’re down to honing in on details of his position at this point,” Davidson said. “In my opinion, I have been around a lot of good ones and he does things well and he’s looking for ways to do it better. That’s what you’re looking for in an offensive lineman.

“One of Sullivan’s strengths is that he helps everybody get on the same page, and like I said, he’s smart and he communicates well with the guys playing around him. And when I say guys playing around him, the whole offense listens to him.”

Davidson also praised Brandon Fusco, the sixth-round draft pick out of Slippery Rock who started all 16 games at right guard last season: “He’s done well. I think he’s got all the want-to in the world, and the guy works every day to try to get better at his craft. It’s my job to make him better.”

Offensive right tackle Phil Loadholt, who made Davidson happy when he re-signed as a free agent rather than accept another offer, completes the front five.

“Phil did well for us last year,” Davidson said. “Hopefully he’s going to get a healthy knee here, too. We’re looking forward to working with him this offseason.”

Davidson added that it’s Loadholt’s size that sets him apart. “We like our offensive linemen smart and tough, and he has that, too, but he’s a big man (6-8, 343 pounds). He’s very difficult to get around. He tries to do things exactly the way that we coach him.”

Davidson said he’s happy to open the season with a line that played a full year together: “Well, I’d say that we’re starting better [than last season], but don’t confuse that with being a finished product. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Jottings

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 86 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
Phoenix 105 FINAL
LA Clippers 108
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close