EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings recently added a savvy vet — former Broncos guard Chris Kuper — to their young offensive line room as the coach of the position group.
Kuper, 39, started 79 of the 90 regular-season games he played for Denver from 2006-13 before transitioning to coaching. He joined the Vikings during the team's initial wave of hirings that followed the selection of Kevin O'Connell as the 10th head coach in franchise history.
He will be assisted by former Broncos assistant Justin Rascati.
Here are five things to know about Kuper:
1. Coaching climb
Kuper joined Minnesota after spending the past three seasons (2019-21) as Denver's assistant offensive line coach, learning under Pro Football Hall of Fame guard Mike Munchak and fostering the development of young linemen Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner.
After a year as a volunteer assistant at Columbine High School (Colorado) in 2015, Kuper was hired by the Dolphins as an offensive quality control coach. He helped Miami win nine of its final 11 games of 2016 and was promoted to assistant offensive line coach from 2017-18. The 2017 Dolphins used nine different combinations of offensive line starters but limited their sacks allowed to 33.
2. Respected by teammates
Kuper spent his entire playing career in Denver, opening 68 games at right guard and 11 at left guard.
During this time, he was named a captain three times and also selected as the team's 2012 Ed Block Courage Award recipient after his recovery efforts from an ankle injury that eventually shortened his career.
3. Career connections
Kuper is one of four coaches hired by the Vikings this offseason who worked together in 2021, along with Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell, Running Backs Coach/Run Game Coordinator Curtis Modkins and Rascati.
He's also connected with former Vikings assistants. Four of Kuper's seasons on the field were played with Rick Dennison as his offensive coordinator (2006-08) or position coach (2009), and another (2010) was with Clancy Barone leading his position group. Dennison was the offensive line coach and run game coordinator for Minnesota from 2019-20 and remained on staff in 2021 as a senior offensive advisor. Barone was Minnesota's tight ends coach in 2017 and became co-offensive line coach in 2018 after the passing of Tony Sparano.
4. North Dakota in common
Selected 161st overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, Kuper became the first University of North Dakota alum to be drafted since 1999 when the Vikings tabbed Jim Kleinsasser with the 44th overall pick.
Kuper was named an All-American twice while at North Dakota (2004-05). He began his college career as a redshirt in 2001 when North Dakota won the Division-II NCAA title.
5. Rare up there
Kuper grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where he starred at Dimond High School all-state offensive and defensive lineman who helped his team win a state title.
In 2015, he was inducted to the Alaska High School Hall of Fame, which noted Kuper as one of 10 from the state to play in the NFL.
Kuper was interviewed about helping with a youth football camp in 2014 and told The Colorado Springs Gazette a little bit about growing up in Alaska.
"There weren't many football camps with professional athletes at it," Kuper said. "Hockey camps, that's what I did, and [I had] to leave the state [to attend those]."