News | Minnesota Vikings – vikings.com

Easton, Beavers Step Up as Injuries Hit Offensive Line Again

The Vikings started Thursday's game with the same offensive line for the second straight game, the first time that had happened in roughly six weeks.

Minnesota believed the starting five could stick together and provide some continuity for a unit that has been battered by injuries in 2016.

The Vikings hope lasted just over one quarter in a 16-13 loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving Day in which Detroit won on a field goal as time expired.

"You lose a heartbreaker like that, and it hurts," said left guard Alex Boone. "Believe me, it hurts. When you lose two offensive linemen, it really hurts."

The Vikings began the game with the combination of left tackle T.J. Clemmings, Boone, center Joe Berger, right guard Brandon Fusco and right tackle Jeremiah Sirles.

The shuffling began early in the second quarter when Berger left with a concussion. Berger had played every snap this season as the Vikings fielded five different starting combinations.

Berger, a 12-year veteran, was replaced by Nick Easton, a second-year center out of Harvard. Easton finished the game in Berger's absence.

Minnesota couldn't stay healthy the rest of the way either. Sirles left just over midway through the fourth quarter with a hip injury.

Sirles was replaced by Willie Beavers, who was a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Beavers, who finished the game for Sirles, became the sixth Viking to line up at a tackle spot this season.

The Michigan native had 20 family members in the stands and said his NFL debut will provide a learning opportunity.

"I've got a lot to get better at," Beavers said. "I'll watch it on film and see what I need to improve on and try to get better this week."

Despite the attrition, Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford was not sacked, and Minnesota's offense tallied 84 yards on just 16 carries, an average of 5.25 yards per attempt.

But after another game in which the Vikings played musical chairs along the offensive line, some players were left shaking their heads.

"At some point, we have to catch a break," said Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. "You just look at the attrition that we've had just on offense, just on the front – guys have come in and played well, and it's hard.

"You try to get in a rhythm, and that group of five played really well together, and you're starting to get in a rhythm, and another guy goes down," he added. "We can't make excuses; injuries are part of this game; it's just unfortunate."

Boone, one of the most outspoken Vikings, echoed that sentiment when asked about his thoughts on the constant amount of injuries the offensive line has endured.

"I don't have words for it," Boone said.

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