Babatunde Aiyegbusi is the very definition of an NFL project. The 6-9, 340-pound offensive tackle is 27 years old and has played professionally in Germany and Poland; he was signed by the Vikings so he could go through training camp and get his trial by fire.
So far so … good?
“The game is slowing down every single practice,” Aiyegbusi said Wednesday. “I feel like I’m doing good; I still make some mistakes, have to get better. Hopefully I will gain enough trust to stay on the team.”
Aiyegbusi’s claim to “fame” so far is a holding penalty in Saturday’s preseason victory over Oakland that forced the Vikings to kick a 43-yard extra point.
His chances of making the team, despite season-ending injuries to Phil Loadholt and Carter Bykowski, are slim. The Vikings could put him on the 10-man practice squad if he is cut and clears waivers, but that also could be a long shot.
For now, Aiyegbusi is enjoying his time in Minnesota.
“I used to travel a lot, so it’s kind of a new trip for me,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of great people who have tried to help me out with everything I’m doing.”
Man in the middle
Gerald Hodges will get the latest audition at middle linebacker when he starts Saturday night in Dallas after rookie Eric Kendricks started against Oakland. Hodges was an outside linebacker until he made the transition during camp.
“I’ve never, ever played middle linebacker — never thought I’d be playing middle linebacker,” he said.
No worries, coach Mike Zimmer said.
“I don’t know how tough it is, honestly. When I was in college, I had a nose tackle move there and he played pretty good,” Zimmer said.
“He’s a guy who has a lot of acceleration, he’s got some physicality to him and I just thought it would be good to give him an opportunity and see what it looks like.”
Hodges, a second-year pro out of Penn State, said he hopes to step up.
“Middle linebacker is your leader, but just because someone plays middle linebacker, it doesn’t make him a great leader,” he said. “But its definitely a role you should want to take on your own.”
Zimmer, meanwhile, said Kendricks is working on his patience.
“He’s kind of a high-strung kid anyway so he always wants to get to the ball, but there’s times where has to be a little more patient if he’s behind the play as opposed to over-running it,” Zimmer said. “You’d much rather always say, ‘whoa’ than ‘go’ to guys, and so he’s a guy that you’ve just got to slow him down just a little bit.”
Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, a second-year player who had an arthroscopic knee procedure earlier this month, was back at practice Wednesday in a limited capacity. Stephen should be ready for the start of the regular season, Zimmer said.
Center John Sullivan (back) also missed practice, as he has for a week. So did tight end MyCole Pruitt (knee) and cornerback Josh Robinson (pectoral).
• The Vikings will have to cut to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon. “We’ll start thinking about that more Sunday after the game,” Zimmer said. “[There’s a] possibility of injuries, there are other reasons too — we’ve got to play another game, injuries, things like that.”
• There was a rare camp dust-up when receiver Donte Foster and cornerback Josh Thomas had to be separated after a short battle.
• Zimmer, a former Cowboys assistant, still owns a house in Dallas, and one of his daughters lives there. He said he remains close to many in the Cowboys organization, and the team’s owners, the Jones family, “invite me down to their hunting place a lot. I go down there quite a bit.”