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Hill Opts for Potential Opportunity with Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The potential opportunity was greater for Rashod Hill than the likely soon-to-be-harsh weather.

Hill, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, opted to leave the practice squad of his hometown team to sign on the Vikings 53-man roster.

Jake Long became the third Vikings veteran tackle to be placed on injured reserve this season, joining Matt Kalil and Andre Smith. Long, who was signed during the Vikings bye week, suffered an Achilles injury on Sunday and underwent surgery.

"Me and my agent had a long conversation. I feel like this is for real," Hill said Wednesday. "I could come out here and contribute more to the team. [The Jaguars] really haven't had injuries down there, and they brought another guy in over me. Whatever [the Vikings] need me to do, I'll do it."

Hill, 6-foot-6 and 303 pounds, said he played basketball through his junior year of high school and then adjusted to football. He earned a scholarship to Southern Miss and started three seasons at left tackle for the Golden Eagles.

Asked about his strengths, Hill said, "my athleticism."

"I'm good with my hands. I think I'm pretty good at pass setting," Hill said. "I need to get better at it. Run blocking, I love doing that, but I need to start playing lower."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings will take an in-person look at the 24-year-old.

"He's got good feet, good size, long arms," Zimmer said.

Hill was signed to the Jaguars 53-man roster for one week but did not play against Baltimore (Sept. 25). He said it was tough to leave his wife and two daughters in Jacksonville for an unknown period of time but he's excited to join the Vikings, in spite of Minnesota's upcoming winter.

"I talked to [Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell], the o-line coach (Doug Marone) and the head coach (Gus Bradley — a Minnesota native)," Hill said. "They wanted to keep me there. They didn't want me to go anywhere. They handled it with class. I've got a good relationship with them down there. They're going to be good friends of mine and good guys. The GM told me, 'Just stay [in Jacksonville]. It's cold up there.' " 

Offensive line shuffle

The Vikings have used five different combinations of starting offensive linemen this season, and that doesn't include players who have had to fill in for linemen who have gotten injured during games.

Left guard Alex Boone, who has started all eight games he's played, is well-aware of the merry go-round. 

"I think this is the 10th offensive line change in 11 weeks, maybe the 11th. But it's one of those things where we can't make excuses," Boone said. "We can't sit there and say, 'Well, this guy's new to me, and I don't know how he's going to play.' That just doesn't jive in this league anymore.

 "It's going to be on us as an offensive line to kind of pick things up quick this week," he added. "Obviously we'll see how we're going to be situated, but we shouldn't have any problems going forward. We know everyone that's going to be out there – we just have to figure out where they're going to be."

Fluctuation along the offensive line offensive line hasn't helped Minnesota in short-yardage situations. Zimmer said Monday that the Vikings are five of 13 on third- or fourth-and-1 scenarios over the past four weeks.

Vikings running back Ronnie Hillman said it takes a team effort to move the chains.

"We have to get push. We need our linemen to win, and we need to make plays when they don't," Hillman said. "We have to put it on our hands to just make something happen when it's cloudy."

Keep moving forward

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford said it was rough to see Long, his former teammate in St. Louis, added to the list of unfortunate injuries because of how excited Long had been to return to action.

"I thought he was playing really well, especially the past two weeks," Bradford said. "I thought he had really come on, he was playing great for us. I know he was just excited to be out there playing football again so to have another injury, I know how tough that is."

Bradford, who has bounced back from two ACL injuries, said the prevalence of injuries at tackle reminded him slightly of his second season with the Rams (2011) and vowed that the Vikings must "keep moving forward."

"Obviously, [Jeremiah] Sirles and T.J. [Clemmings] – they started a couple of games together so we feel confident in them because they've been out there, they've done it before," Bradford said. "They've played a lot of football. As bad as this is to continue to lose guys you've just got to try to stay positive and just keep moving forward."

Developing rookie

Zimmer also was asked about another rookie offensive lineman, Willie Beavers, on Wednesday.

The Vikings drafted Beavers in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Western Michigan, where he played left tackle. He has worked at guard and tackle since arriving in Minnesota.

"He is progressing in practice. He's doing better at tackle than he has been at guard for whatever reason, probably because he played there in college," Zimmer said. He's done a lot better there than at guard. But he is progressing, he's getting better, yes."

View images from the Vikings Wednesday, November 16 practice at Winter Park.

Injury reports

The first injury report of the Week has been published and includes 13 Vikings and 12 Cardinals.

For the Vikings: Eric Kendricks (hip), Captain Munnerlyn (ankle), Sharrif Floyd (knee) and Terence Newman (illness) did not participate. Xavier Rhodes (concussion) and Zac Kerin (hand) were limited. Mackensie Alexander (shoulder), Matt Asiata (shoulder), Laquon Treadwell (hamstring), Marcus Sherels (ankle), Linval Joseph (shoulder), Andrew Sendejo (ankle) and Audie Cole (hand) fully participated.

For the Cardinals: S Deone Bucannon (ankle), WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee/ankle), LB Chandler Jones (not injury related), LB Alex Okafor (knee/calf), QB Carson Palmer (non injury related) and DT Corey Peters (foot) did not participate. LB Joplo Bartu (hamstring), LB Gabe Martin (hamstring), S Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) and CB Tharold Simon (ankle) were limited. CB Justin Bethel (foot/wrist) and CB Brandon Williams (finger) fully participated.

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