One's a lineman; the other is his coach. Together, guard Alex Boone and new offensive line coach Tony Sparano will look to improve the Vikings offensive line in 2016.
Viking Update's Tim Yotter examined what the duo can bring to the table. Yotter said the player and coach seem to be "the perfect mix."
"Tony's going to coach aggressively and be demanding," Zimmer told* Viking Update *in January. "I was with him before in Dallas so I've seen him work, and that's how he's always been. He's going to push them and make them try to be better every day."
*Boone expects Sparano to be demanding, too. In fact, that is exactly what Boone wants in his position coach. *
Boone had been with the 49ers since signing in 2009 as an undrafted free agent. Although his unit didn't work directly under Sparano, Boone experienced the coach's style and appreciates it.
"I think it's more in your face, and those are the coaches that I really like a lot – guys that are very straightforward," Boone said. "Hurt me with the truth, don't comfort me with a lie. Give it to me straight. I know when I screwed up. You can tell me I screwed up. Let's fix the problem and we'll move on."
Tomasson: Early reviews good for Vikings free agency
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press also gave the Vikings positive feedback for their free agency moves thus far, particularly with the offensive line. Tomasson wrote:
*Early reviews have been good. Since free agency got underway last Wednesday, Minnesota has signed guard Alex Boone to a four-year, $26.8 million deal and re-signed guard Mike Harris to a one-year deal that has a base salary of $1.9 million and could be worth as much as $3 million with incentives. *
"They're trying to make the offensive line better,'' Harris told Tomasson. "I feel like it's only going to help the team. … It's going to provide a lot of good competition.''
The Vikings offensive line was hit with the injury bug last year, losing center John Sullivan, tackle Phil Loadholt and tackle Carter Bykowski for the entire 2015 season. After reassembling a starting line of Matt Kalil, Brandon Fusco, Joe Berger, Mike Harris and rookie T.J. Clemmings, those five lineman started all 16 games.
Kalil might be the only one of the five in the same starting spot next season. With Boone on hand after six years with San Francisco, he is expected to start at left guard. Fusco, who moved to the left side last season, then would return to the right and battle Harris for a starting job.
*Conversations continuing with Chad Greenway and Terence Newman
Twin cities media members caught up with Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman in Minneapolis Sunday night. ESPN's Ben Goessling asked Spielman for an update on talks with veterans Chad Greenway and Terence Newman, both of whom hit free agency last week. Goessling wrote:
*Greenway has had some interest from several other teams, but has consistently said he wants to return to the Vikings for an 11th season. He said last Thursday his agent's talks with the Vikings had been positive, though the linebacker was taking a pragmatic approach to his first few days of free agency, saying he was mostly laying low and would assess his options as they came along. *
Newman has shown interest in returning to the Vikings for a second season and continuing his long-running relationship with [Head] Coach Mike Zimmer. He had a successful first year with the team, though the Vikings would likely want to see more of 11th overall pick Trae Waynes after a rookie season where he was mostly used on special teams. Still, Newman's knowledge of Zimmer's defense and his influence on a young group of corners would seem to make him a strong bet to return, as Greenway also appears to be.