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Clemmings Calmly Adjusting to Vikings Changes

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Cool and calm during interviews since he arrived in Minnesota, T.J. Clemmings is feeling more comfortable on the field than a year ago.

The Vikings fourth-round pick in 2015 was lining up at right guard for Vikings organized team activity practices last year after playing his final two seasons at right tackle at Pittsburgh.

Minnesota opted to move Clemmings to right tackle at the start of training camp last July, and in August, he slid into the starting role when Phil Loadholt suffered a season-ending injury. Clemmings started all 16 games at the post.

This time around, Clemmings has been working at left tackle and right tackle for the Vikings in OTA practices. The Vikings are scheduled to finish their slate of 10 OTA practices this week before holding a three-day minicamp next week.

"It's been good, a different feel from last year," Clemmings said. "I've got one year under my belt. I'm a little more comfortable, not as jittery or edgy as I was last year. I've calmed down a little bit and understand the calls better. Things are making a lot more sense."

The Vikings have 16 offensive linemen on the roster, and nine who have started all 16 games of a season at least once.

Loadholt is working his way back from torn pec and Achilles injuries the past two seasons. He last played in a regular-season game in November 2014. Minnesota also brought in right tackle Andre Smith via free agency after Smith played his first seven seasons in Cincinnati.

Clemmings said gains in confidence and communication are helping him make the adjustments that go from the right end of the line to the left.

"Sometimes the left tackle has a little different job on certain plays, so I'm really just getting that down, and having my body adjust to being in the left-handed stance has been a challenge," Clemmings said. "Transitioning to what coach wants me to do in the left-handed stance and being able to do it in the right-handed stance is what I'm working on right now. So far, it's been good. It's coming along."

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner said last week that he likes what he is seeing from Clemmings.

"T.J. has been doing good. It's a change for him," Turner said. "He gets challenged every day by our defensive front. We've got good players over there, so I think he's making progress."

Clemmings has been learning from a couple of new voices as well: offensive line coach Tony Sparano and veteran left guard Alex Boone.

"He's definitely a teacher," Clemmings said of Sparano. "He wants us to get it. He always says, 'If you don't get it, let me know, and I'll go over it again.'

"His door is always open, so you can say, 'Hey, I don't understand this,' and he's been able to help me with that, sitting there for as long as it takes for me to get my responsibility down, so he's definitely very good with that."

The 6-foot-8 Boone is big in size, personality and passion for the game. Clemmings described him as a "high-energy guy."

"He's a guy in the building, that you'll hear him from around the corner," Clemmings said. "He's a good dude and definitely likes to help us out. It's helped me out a lot as well, with some of the calls. We're trying to stay on the same page. He's definitely a good guy for the team."

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