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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    Posted on Sun, Apr. 09, 2006

    [size=18px]Revamped line has Vikings optimistic[/size]

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - New Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked what he thought of the offensive line on the first day of his first mini camp in Minnesota.

    "I've got other places I've got to watch," Childress said. "That's why I've got that tape that I can go back in and watch right now."

    For once, the offensive line is not one of the biggest worries for the Vikings. The patchwork unit struggled mightily for most of last season, but with one big free agent signing, and the recuperation of a former Pro Bowl center, the Vikings may have turned a weakness into a strength.

    Armed with more than $30 million in cap room, the Vikings resisted the temptation to spend big money on a high-profile running back like Edgerrin James. Instead, they signed Chester Taylor at a bargain price of $14 million, then threw a big chunk at All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson, signing him to a seven-year $49-million deal that is the richest for a guard in league history.

    The offer sheet included a "poison pill" clause in which his contract becomes guaranteed if he's not his team's highest-paid offensive lineman. He had previously been named Seattle's transition player.

    The Seahawks contested the deal, but an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Vikings, and now Hutchinson is happy to have that controversy behind him.

    "Up until (Friday), everything was about me being new, the poison pill, the contract and what the league wants to do to amend the rule or whatever," Hutchinson said. "Now it is back to football and putting on a helmet and being able to play. You can kind of put that behind you, so it's nice."

    Equally as giddy to get on the field was center Matt Birk, who missed all of last season while recovering from hip surgery.

    "I almost felt like a rookie again, but that's OK," Birk said, smiling. "I'll take it."

    Birk made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in 2004, but a torn labrum in his hip kept him out all last season. The absence of the cerebral leader, and one of the best pulling centers in the league, was a crushing blow to the unit.

    Backups Cory Withrow and Melvin Fowler couldn't fill Birk's shoes, and both were let go in the offseason.

    "He's the guy that's telling everybody which direction to go," Childress said. "That's huge to have a center that's a smart guy, a physical player in there, directing both sides of the offensive line."

    He shouldn't have to carry as much of a load this season, with Hutchinson and improving left 6-foot-8 tackle Bryant McKinnie helping to form one of the best left sides in the league.

    "We're very happy with the left side," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "I think those three guys are great players. Whether it's the best combination in the league, they haven't played together yet, so we'll reserve our comments on that until we've seen them all play together."

    That's what this weekend has been about for the offensive line -- getting acquainted with one another. While the left side is solidified, the Vikings have been tinkering more on the right side, rotating Anthony Herrera and Adam Goldberg at guard and Marcus Johnson and Mike Rosenthal at tackle.

    Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    DaunteHOF is offline Coach
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    might need a right guard cause none of the options make me feel good about the right side.
    Its not braggin if you can do it!!!

  3. #3
    Eyedea's Avatar
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    I remember hearing like three years ago that Chris Liwinski was one of the most underrated gaurds in the league, and should have been discussed in the top 20 or so gaurds. Now he's fighting for a spot on the team
    Make love to the present, fuck the past
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  4. #4
    V4L's Avatar
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    Max Jean Gilles- second round if we can

  5. #5
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    I'm not sure about the right side yet myself, but I'm positive it will be addressed.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  6. #6
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    The right side makes me very very nervous, and even if we do address it in the draft its hard for a rookie to step right in and play. Marcus had a lot of trouble, especially if it was more than a 2 count snap. It took Mckinnie a couple years to be the player he is starting to turn into. So with that said, I assume we will draft someone but it still doesnt make me feel better about that side.

  7. #7
    alberta_vike is offline Starter
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    I thought Marcus Johnson looked pretty good when he was moved to tackle at the end of last year. I really feel like he will do pretty well there.

    The right guard spot I am a bit concerned about. Neither Herrera nor Goldberg is that great. However, I don't know if a rookie will be much of an improvement this season. Additionally, they both lookd like they could develop into good players if they are given the chance.

    If the line at the start of the season was:

    McKinnie - Hutchinson - Birk - Herrera - Johnson

    I would feel pretty confident in that. I wouldn't be very surprised to see Liwienski take the right guard spot either.

    I think the biggest difference between this year and last is we have some depth on the line. Liwienski, Rosenthal, Whittle, and Goldberg is a pretty good group of backups.

  8. #8
    mogwai's Avatar
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    MJ was a rookie last year.for god's sake give him a chance.not many ot's do well their first year..the line will be fine.

  9. #9
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    I think it was written somewhere that Liwienski played hurt (shoulder) all season last year and that his play suffered greatly.

    Just something to think about; Liwienski was actually looking pretty good the year before.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

    The right side of the line is extremely weak at this point. It is nice to know that we have a dominating left side to the line though.. I hope we can do something with the right side sooner rather than later.

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