The Vikings addressed their offensive line through the draft and free agency this spring, and the unit has a new look heading into the 2019 season.
CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr said Tuesday that Minnesota’s offensive line is “much improved” after the group battled injuries and inconsistency in 2018.
Kerr delved into each position on the offensive line, starting with left tackle Riley Reiff and left guard Pat Elflein, who started at center the past two seasons. Kerr opined that guard is the “natural” position for Elflein, who played both spots at Ohio State.
He then highlighted Garrett Bradbury, whom the Vikings drafted 18th overall in April.
The Rimington Trophy winner in 2018 (given to the nation’s best center), Bradbury solidifies the center position of the Vikings offensive line, allowing them to improve in two positions.
Bradbury allowed two sacks and 13 total pressures at N.C. State last season.
View images from the Vikings training camp practice on August 6 at TCO Performance Center.
At right guard, Minnesota added Josh Kline, who most recently played for the Titans.
The Vikings are banking on Kline to return to his 2017 level of play, when he allowed one sack and 19 pressures in 587 pass-blocking snaps.
Kerr also looked at the right tackle spot, where Brian O’Neill is entering his second season after starting 11 games there as a rookie.
O’Neill moves well on the edge, which makes him a natural fit at tackle. The right side of the offensive line will be the Vikings strength, with O’Neill having the right tackle position locked down as Minnesota hopes he solidifies himself as one of the best right tackles in the game.
Vikings Odenigbo, Rodriguez, impacted & saddened by shootings in hometowns
Vikings defensive line coach Rob Rodriquez and defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo each are processing and mourning mass shootings that took place in their respective hometowns of El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press spoke to both individuals about the tragedies and how it has affected them.
“I just had a lot of emotions that day,” Rodriguez told Tomasson. “I still have a lot of emotions about it, and so in my little way I wanted to put a little something on my hat. … I love my city. I’m like everybody else. I was mourning that day.”
According to Tomasson, there was a long “long period of time” on Saturday during which Rodriguez wasn’t sure if his parents were OK. He wrote:
Rodriguez eventually learned that no close family members were in the area at the time. However, he said an older man who is related to his sister-in-law was injured in the shooting. He met the man once at a wedding.
Rodriguez said had met a young man who was one of the victims. He was a football player at a high school where Rodriguez once recruited for Texas-El Paso.
“I’m fortunate that obviously my immediate family wasn’t affected, but in El Paso, we’re tight knit. It hits home,” Rodriguez told Tomasson. I can’t imagine how they’re feeling. I can’t imagine what the people are going through.”
Rodriguez, who is Hispanic, was saddened to see police say that the gunman is believed to have put online a racist rant aimed at immigrants and Latinos.
“It’s disheartening because I know the people in that city,” he said. “I know they’re predominately Hispanic, but the strength of El Paso is its people, and it’s hurtful to think that those people would be targeted. Those are my people. They’re my family and friends. … But this isn’t going to break them. They’re strong people.”
Odenigbo told Tomasson that he had been to the neighborhood where the Dayton shooting occurred, even celebrating his 24th birthday there in April 2018.
“I woke up Sunday morning, and I heard the news, and I couldn’t believe it,” Odenigbo told Tomasson. “What happened to Dayton is very tragic, so we’ve just got to stay strong.”
Cook selling ‘The Chef’ merch for charity
On Saturday, Aug. 31, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook will host his first “Cookout & Combine.”
The event will be held at Parade Park in Minneapolis and feature local food truck partners and exclusive Dalvin “The Chef” Cook merchandise.
Cook tweeted a look at the hoodie designs Tuesday. The sweatshirts cost, fittingly, $33.33 apiece, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Second Harvest Heartland in an effort to combat food insecurity in the Twin Cities.