Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Brandon Fusco losing his grip on right guard position

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Leslie Frazier Updated: November 26, 2012 - 1:33 PM

The first Geoff Schwartz sighting came in Week 6 at Washington with the veteran guard worked into the mix in place of Brandon Fusco for 11 of 84 snaps. At the time, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier explained that cameo away as the coaching staff’s desire to have some in-game action from Schwartz to review. But it was clear coaches were losing a bit of confidence in Fusco.

And with each passing week, Fusco's inconsistency has had the Vikings using Schwartz more extensively at right guard. In Sunday's loss in Chicago, Schwartz was actually on the field more than Fusco for the first time, playing 36 of the Vikings' 66 offensive snaps.

So is a permanent change on the horizon?

With Fusco struggling now late in his first year as a starter, Frazier was asked Monday what's going wrong.

“It’s more the footwork and sometimes getting top heavy,” Frazier said. “[He’s] leaning a little bit too much one way or the other. And he’s just losing some of his fundamentals as an offensive guard. There are some things that technically he’ll get off on at times. And then it creates problems for our offense."

Keep in mind, the Vikings first play Sunday was a disaster. With an empty backfield and five receiving options spread wide, Christian Ponder had barely caught the shotgun snap when he was mauled by Henry Melton for a 9-yard loss. Melton had found his way to Ponder with little obstruction, plowing right around Fusco for an easy sack.

It was the latest example of Fusco's struggles killing the offensive attack.

“When he’s on, he’s a very good player,” Frazier said. “But there are moments where he’s just a little bit off from a fundamental standpoint.”

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