Lunch Break

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Lunchbreak: SI Tabs Easton-Elflein as Battle to Watch

Posted Aug 11, 2017

Minnesota rolled out a number of offensive line combinations at Buffalo.

The Vikings started the game with Nick Easton at center but then slid him over to left guard when they rotated out most of the first-team offense and rotated in rookie center Pat Elflein.

Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated yesterday said that “very few teams” would start the preseason with all five offensive line positions set in stone. He listed a number of battles to watch across the league, including the one between Easton and Elflein. Following the Vikings-Bills game, it’s likely his argument still holds water. Burke wrote:

Elflein ranked No. 40 on our list of 2017 draft prospects, so the Vikings did well to swipe in with a third-round pick. Sometime soon, he’ll be a starter. Will that happen before the regular season begins next month? It definitely could. He’ll have every opportunity to surpass Easton, a five-game starter for the Vikings last season.

The Vikings are slated to play at Seattle Friday night at 9 p.m. (CT) before hosting the third and fourth preseason games against the 49ers and Dolphins, respectively, at U.S. Bank Stadium. It will be interesting to see how Elflein and Easton are utilized in those contests.

Burke included on his list a handful of teams that the Vikings will face this year, including the division-rival Lions (Greg Robinson vs. Cyrus Kouandjio and Storm Norton) and the Saints, whom the Vikings will play on Monday Night Football to start the regular season Sept. 11. Tackle Terron Armstead was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a torn labrum, so first-round draft pick Ryan Ramczyk was called on. Burke said that it’s a position to watch, however, because Ramczyk has missed multiple practice recently for “undisclosed reasons.”

As such, the Saints starting left tackle could wind up [Khalif] Barnes, by default. The 35-year-old longtime NFL veteran should be a depth player at this point in his career, but the Saints are running out of options.

Rookies Elflein, Bower among standouts in Vikings victory

Following last night’s win, Vikings.com delved into a number of individual performances, including Dalvin Cook’s NFL debut, contributions from rookie wide receiver duo Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley, and the Vikings backup quarterbacks.

With so many players seeing preseason playing time, there were plenty of players turning heads. Matthew Coller of 1500 ESPN listed 10 players who stood out – either positively or negatively – in Minnesota’s 17-10 win over Buffalo

One name Coller listed was Tashawn Bower, whom the Vikings signed as an undrafted free agent this spring. Coller wrote:

Bower picked up a sack late in the first half, taking down veteran QB T.J. Yates, then opened up the second half with a pressure. The former LSU defensive end has impressed in training camp, routinely getting after the Vikings two backup quarterbacks. He has good length and quickness that make him an interesting prospect.

Another rookie Coller highlighted for a mostly strong performance was Elflein, who played a good chunk of the game.

His most noticeable play came on a 14-yard run where he dominated the defensive tackle to spring Bishop Sankey. Elflein also got significant push on the Vikings rushing touchdown at the goal line. He did have one poor snap out of the shotgun.

Robison continues connection with youth who lost their father

Brian Robison has fans all over the country, many of whom show their support for the Vikings defensive end over social media.

One of those fans, Jonathan Griffis, passed away in 2015, and Robison has since stayed connected with his family. KEYC Mankato reporter Tyler Seggerman recently wrote about Griffis’ young children Alanna, Aliza and William, who now live with Griffis’ sister, Martha Coffland.

Coffland said, ‘We got a hold of Brian, cause we thought it would be important for the kids to talk to someone who … their dad idolized.’

The night Griffis collapsed, the [Vikings were] heading west to play in the illustrious Hall of Fame Game versus the Steelers. 

Robison received the message from the Coffland family after the game, explaining their story, which led to a unique surprise.

Back at training camp, he brought the entire defensive line over to meet the family as well as give William a signed glove and the cleats he wore against Pittsburgh.

Robison and his wife, Jayme, have continued to support the Griffis children and Coffland, a single mother of three herself. This year, however, it was the children who wanted to thank Robison. According to Seggerman, they visited training camp last week and gave Robison a personalized bottle of soda that displayed his nickname, “B-Rob.”

Although the void of their father passing may never be filled, it's moments like these that remind them of the times they shared with Griffis and his love for the game.

[…]

The family says that Jonathan would be very happy to see that his kids have an opportunity to personally look up to a man like Robison and continue to possess a firm bond with an individual he admired.