In case you hadn’t heard, the Vikings have two new offensive tackles on the field this spring. They are banking that the signings of Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers solidify those two spots. Now they are trying to figure out what to do with T.J. Clemmings, a starting tackle in 2015 and 2016.
This spring, the third-year lineman has only lined up at right guard during the four practices open to media, playing exclusively with other backups. Today, Clemmings was sandwiched between rookie center Pat Elflein and right tackle Willie Beavers, another former fourth-round draft pick.
Coach Mike Zimmer said today, after the first practice of the three-day mandatory minicamp, that Clemmings is better off on the inside.
“It’s a little bit of a work in progress,” he said. “How’s the best way to say this? The best place for him is where it’s a little bit more condensed. T.J. is a great kid. He’s going to give you his best every day. He’s going to come out here and work. He doesn’t really care where he plays.”
Zimmer, of course, was alluding to Clemmings’ issues in pass protection at both left and right tackle during his rocky first two seasons in the NFL, when injuries to starters forced the Vikings to turn to Clemmings.
The addition of Reiff, Remmers and Elflein to the offensive line group puts Clemmings in jeopardy of not making the final roster if he does not show improvement in his third year. But if he picks up this new position quickly, his versatility could help him stick with the Vikings as a reserve.
“Obviously he’d like to be comfortable somewhere,” Zimmer said. “I think [guard] might be a good spot for him. Obviously if you’re not starting, you have to play more than one spot anyway. But this is something we wanted to look at this spring and see how it pans out.”