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Combine O-Line Group Deep, Versatile

Offensive linemen were among the **first wave*** *of players on Wednesday in the media blitz component of the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.

The position was also a topic for Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, who met with beat reporters that traveled from the Twin Cities to Indianapolis, was a guest with Paul Allen and Paul Charchian on a KFAN broadcast from Radio Row and held a podium session at Lucas Oil Stadium.

One of the topics Spielman covered at the annual league-wide convention of executives, coaches and more than 300 draft-eligible prospects was offensive line, and versatility is a characteristic of this year's crop.

"I think there's a lot of depth in this line class," Spielman said. "There's tackles that can be guards. There's centers and guards, there's a center that played tackle, was a left tackle that moved into center, the kid from Florida State (Cameron Erving)."

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has seven tackles, one guard and one center (Erving) among his top 50 prospects.

Spielman said the Vikings held a session on offensive line during their pre-combine meetings last week and reviewed a shift in philosophy when rookie Teddy Bridgewater replaced injured Matt Cassel as the starting quarterback.

"We're a team that wants to come off and fire off the ball, well that changed a little bit last year with Teddy and we started going a little more spread and with Teddy working more out of the shotgun," Spielman said. "So we had to make changes to the philosophy on offense, and Teddy kind of excelled in that."

The Vikings started five different combinations of offensive linemen last season because of injuries. Right guard Brandon Fusco (in September) and right tackle Phil Loadholt (in November) suffered pectoral injuries that have had them **busy rehabbing** this offseason.

Charlie Johnson, Joe Berger and Vladimir Ducasse all started games at guard in 2014. Left tackle Matt Kalil and center John Sullivan started all 16 games.

Spielman said a key for 2015 and beyond will be further blending the five starters into a cohesive unit.

"You can't have five all-stars out there that are not on the same page," Spielman said. "The successful offensive linemen are good football players but also work together and have that continuity: 'I know what's going to happen because I've been playing next to the guy for two or three years.'

"Last year we had a lot of injuries on the offensive line, and those guys were learning how to play," Spielman continued. "Toward the end of the season our offensive line played a lot better than they were when we suffered all those injuries. Our backups did an admirable job, but you're hoping when you get your guys back that they can stay healthy and play together."

The offensive linemen are scheduled to take the field for timing and testing drills Friday, and the grouping of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers will participate in media sessions Thursday.

Combine Schedule:

Groups 1-3 (offensive line, tight ends, specialists): Feb. 17-20 (media Wednesday, timing Friday)

Groups 4-6 (quarterbacks, receivers, running backs): Feb. 18-21 (media Thursday, timing Saturday)

Groups 7-9 (defensive line, linebackers): Feb. 19-22 (media Friday, timing Sunday)

Groups 10-11 (defensive backs): Feb. 20-23 (media Saturday, timing Monday)

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