The Vikings’ offensive line could take shape as soon as this weekend, according to coordinator Gary Kubiak, who said coaches will meet to discuss the options after six practices this week.
Dakota Dozier, who re-signed in free agency on a one-year, $1 million deal, appears to be the leader in the clubhouse at left guard, where he continued to lead the rotation Thursday with fourth-year lineman Aviante Collins.
Friday’s practice might be the last before coaches decide, Kubiak said.
“We have a pretty good feel for our people,” he added. “We need to sit down as a group, listen, see what our defensive guys think about our guys up front, listen to” the offensive line coaches.
Dozier, the 29-year-old former Jets guard, was an injury replacement in six games (four starts) last season, proving he’s reliable in a pinch while blocking on the left and right side. He also knows offensive line coach Rick Dennison, whom he followed from the Jets to the Vikings in 2019.
“Dakota’s at a very good place in his life and his career,” Kubiak said. “He’s a guy who’s battled and battled and battled, and he knows he can do it, and he’s out there every day really doing a hell of a job.”
Hunter still out; vets rest
Thursday, the Vikings’ fifth day in a row with a practice, came with some relief for select veterans, including Anthony Barr, who sat out some first-team reps, along with receiver Adam Thielen and safety Harrison Smith. Left tackle Riley Reiff didn’t practice outside of warmups.
Defensive end Danielle Hunter watched his fifth straight practice; coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that Hunter is recovering from a “little tweak” and “will be all right.”
Punter Britton Colquitt held for field goals, but did not kick while rehabbing an apparent injury with a trainer off to the side of practice.
Receiver Dillon Mitchell was also held out.
U.S. Bank Stadium or bust
To acclimate the 26 rookies trying to make the team, Zimmer said on KFAN Thursday that the Vikings will practice at U.S. Bank Stadium on Aug. 28.
In a normal year, two preseason games would’ve been played by then, but Vikings coaches will hold scrimmages, including one at U.S. Bank Stadium, in lieu of exhibition evaluations.
“We’re going to have to try to simulate some preseason games,” Zimmer said this week. “Play a quarter, and the [week] following that I’ll play a half and kind of try to ramp it up as we go that way.”
Time for family
Third-year tight end Tyler Conklin said he cherished the longer offseason amid the pandemic, because he spent time with his younger brother, Trevor, who then went to train “to be a Navy SEAL.”
“I try not to think about it,” Conklin said. “He’s a very dedicated individual, and I know whatever he wants to make happen, he’ll make happen. It’s definitely kind of a scary thought to think that at one point he could be in a war.”