Although he admits it could benefit struggling left tackle Matt Kalil, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the decision to move Brandon Fusco from right to left guard had nothing to do with that.
“It was really about putting [rookie T.J.] Clemmings on the right side and making it easier for him as opposed to moving over to the other side,” said Zimmer, referring to the fourth-round draft pick who played right tackle in college. “We know that Fusco can always move back if we plug somebody else in at left guard.”
On Wednesday, the new-look line featured Kalil, Fusco, center John Sullivan and Clemmings lining up next to right tackle Mike Harris, who is holding down that position until Phil Loadholt is able to return from his pectoral injury.
This is the preferred starting line that likely will head into training camp.
‘We’re going to be great’
Granted, it was Division II Slippery Rock, but Fusco did play some left guard — and center — in college.
“It’s not really that much different,” he said. “Just a couple differences in footwork and weight distribution and stuff like that. And working with a different player. Matt’s a great player. We’re going to be great over there.”
Even though there are no pads and the contact is limited, Fusco said OTAs will help his comfort level.
“That’s what this stuff is for,” Fusco said. “I look forward to the change and let’s move on with it.”
Meanwhile, Clemmings, the big tackle from Pittsburgh, was asked if he’s ever played inside.
“No,” he said. “Never.”
“I played right tackle,” he said. “Things were spread out a little more and you were on an island more. Everything at guard is just closer together, so I’m just adjusting to that right now. My goal is to earn the job, but right now, Coach is just looking for the right pieces.”
Kalil: ‘I’m healthy’
So, Matt Kalil, what’s new this year?
“I feel healthy this year,” the embattled left tackle said.
Kalil has blamed much of his struggles from 2014 on rushing back from knee surgery last summer. This offseason, he’s had further knee surgery and procedures performed to strengthen his knees.
“I’m ready to go,” he said after taking all of Wednesday’s first-team snaps at left tackle.
• Left defensive end Brian Robison, who recently suffered what he called a minor pectoral injury while working out, was among the players who were rested Wednesday.
• Also among those sitting out team drills were Loadholt, right defensive end Everson Griffen, linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and linebacker Casey Matthews.
• Zimmer said first-round draft pick Trae Waynes is learning both outside corner and the inside nickel spot.
“He’s got work to do, like all guys do,” Zimmer said. “But he shows flashes of really good stuff.”