EAGAN, Minn. — There have been plenty of fresh faces at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center with the Vikings returning to work this week.
And while Minnesota's voluntary offseason program is still in the infancy stages, a pair of those newcomers met with Twin Cities media members.
Jesse Davis and Chris Reed each joined the squad within the past few weeks, and both are considered to be in the mix for the open starting position at right guard. Olisaemeka Udoh, who started 14 games there in 2021, is also returning, as is second-year pro Wyatt Davis.
Both Davis and Reed downplayed any competition, especially when the team won't get on the field for practices for another month. They did, however, share their early impressions of Minnesota.
"It was a quick stint in free agency for me. I thought my best fit would be here," Davis said. "I know the O-line coach [Chris Kuper] pretty well, so I thought I would fit in with this scheme.
He later added: "My agent kind of gave me the opportunity to look at [the open spot]. My focus is on [the] inside. But ultimately, it's a long ways away before we step on the field and figure out who's playing where. Hopefully I'll have a spot out there."
Reed added: "It's early days, but I think that it's a great room. … [From] just working out with them, they work hard, their minds are in the right place, and they're really eager to learn and grow. I think that's what you need."
Davis is the most experienced player in the offensive line room, starting 72 of the 80 regular-season games he played for Miami since 2017, including at least 15 in each of the past four seasons.
Davis has plenty of versatility on his rèsumè, as he made his first 26 career starts at right guard and totaled 1,863 snaps at the position. He then moved outside to right tackle, where he logged 2,212 snaps for Miami.
And that doesn't include a side-of-the-ball switch in college, when Davis went from a defensive lineman to an offensive lineman in college at Idaho.
"Spring ball happened, and a lot of O linemen went down," Davis recalled. "They always joked with me that they were going to move me to O-line, and I didn't like that too much as a defensive guy.
"And sure enough, it happened and it kind of stuck," Davis said. "Obviously it worked out for the better. I don't think I would've made it the other way. You just learn how to play it. It took me a while to figure it out."
Reed, meanwhile, has bounced around with a few teams in recent seasons.
He spent 2015-18 with the Jaguars and in 2019 played in five games for the Dolphins and three for the Panthers. He spent 2020 on Carolina's roster, starting all 14 games he played. Last season, he played in 14 games for the Colts, starting six of them. Reed has started 29 of 61 career regular-season games.
View photos of Vikings players returning to the TCO Performance Center to begin the 202 offseason program.
Reed, a Nebraska native who attended Minnesota State University, Mankato, credited his time in Indianapolis for helping him grow.
"I think it was the mentality of the O-line room that helped, and then the wide receivers," Reed said of a Colts rushing attack that ranked second in the league last season with 149.4 rushing yards per game. "If you watch film, the wide receivers would come in there and get great blocks, and sustain them.
"That was a big part: A lot of teams can get in there and get those blocks on the edges, and sometimes, that's the make-or-break between 20 yards and five yards," Reed added. "I think being in that kind of room — it's a veteran room, they've been together for quite a while, it's an established coaching staff, and that whole entire mentality of that room is kind of what drove that offense."
And while Reed likely signed with the Vikings for football reasons, he may have had some personal ones, too.
Reed's wife, Anna, hails from Rochester and is part of a Vikings-loving family. And Reed took in training camp practices down in Mankato, too.
"Going through college, the Vikings had their training camp down there, and I would sneak onto the field with a coach's pass," Reed said. "My O-line coach would let me – and I'd watch all the individual drills and all that stuff and kind of see how pros worked, and incorporate that into what I did in college."
View photos of new Vikings OL Jesse Davis who joined the team during free agency.
Both Davis and Reed hope to eventually earn the starting spot between center Garrett Bradbury and right tackle Brian O'Neill, a position that has been in flux in recent seasons.
Udoh was the primary starter there in 2021 after switching from tackle. It was a similar story in 2020 when Ezra Cleveland led the way with nine starts at right guard as a rookie.
In 2019, Josh Kline started 13 games at right guard, while Mike Remmers was the main man in 2018.
O'Neill said he's excited to see how the competition next to him shakes out.
"Both Jesse and Chris have played a lot of football. I think Jesse has the most starts in our room now," O'Neill said. "I think they're both going on Year 8, so it's always good to have experienced guys who have been there and done that.
"There's a chance they've seen something that me or the other guys haven't, just with their experience and different teams and different offenses across the league," O'Neill added. "I'm really excited to lean on those guys as much as possible."