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Monday Morning Mailbag: Offensive Line Making Progress

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First-team offensive line looked good for the most part against a good Seattle defense. Fix the negative plays and I think we would've put up six points on the first drive! Dalvin Cook looked ready to eat as well! Can't wait until Sept. 11! SKOL! -- Kyle Alexander Texas

I agree and head coach Mike Zimmer seemed to agree as well based on his postgame comments and his meeting with reporters yesterday. The first three series against Seattle represented a positive step for the offensive line, and they didn’t even have left tackle Riley Reiff or left guard Alex Boone. Cook looked explosive and used every inch of space his blockers gave him. Presuming Reiff and Boone are ready to go for next Sunday’s preseason game, it’ll be interesting to see how the Vikings parse out reps for Joe Berger, Nick Easton and Pat Elflein as the coaching staff tries to determine its depth chart for the regular season 

Much better moving the ball. Especially against that team. But still did not get in the end zone. Do you think we should be concerned? -- Toby Smart Alaska

The negative plays – sacks, negative runs and penalties – are always a concern if they are happening, and they were happening too often last season. Penalties also stalled the first drive in Seattle on Friday night. Coach Zimmer acknowledged this during his meeting with reporters on Sunday and said he had the offense working a lot on red zone situations in practice. I wouldn’t be overly concerned at this moment, but if these issues flare up on Sunday against the 49ers in the third preseason game, then questions are going to exist all the way into Week 1 of the regular season.

I know it's only the second preseason game, but I'm a little nervous with our defense giving up some easy mid-range passing yards. I know not all the starters were in, but it seems to be a weak point this year. Are Zimmer and (defensive coordinator George) Edwards addressing this before the season starts? We start the season with a pass-heavy team – the Saints. -- Todd R. Stockton, CA

Yes, they are addressing it right now. Coach Zimmer said on Sunday that coverage was going to be a point of emphasis in practice this week after Russell Wilson and Co. were able to hit the Vikings defense for several explosive gains in the first half on Friday night. Granted, two starters – Andrew Sendejo and Trae Waynes – didn’t play, but that doesn’t excuse mistakes made by others. I expect those issues will be corrected and you’ll see a defense clicking on all cylinders next Sunday night against the 49ers.

Good game Friday night! Although we took the loss, I feel like we saw more positives from the game than we saw in our win against Buffalo. My question is about Terence Newman. You're around the team and see a lot of the practices. Do you feel like he is starting to slow down or regress? Thoughts? Thanks and SKOL! -- Jerry Provost

It is interesting that folks, myself included, feel better about the team’s overall performance after the loss to Seattle than they did after defeating Buffalo last week. I’m guessing it’s because offensive improvement has been the focus in 2017 and the offense was significantly better in Seattle than it was in Buffalo. As for Newman, I feel he’s still a big-time asset for the defense. And it’s not just as a mentor and “coach on the field” influence. He’s still playing at a high level, he can play multiple positions in the defense and I do value his leadership and veteran presence.

I'm convinced we need to get Bucky involved more frequently. Perhaps once we get near or in the red zone. He is ridiculously athletic and tall. He and Rudy along with Diggs/Thielen is a solid mix. Have you heard anything on getting him more involved with the 1s? -- Dan Witherington

Hodges made a great catch for a score on Friday night and I can see how witnessing that would compel you to want to see him more often with the starters. That day may come for Hodges and maybe it’ll be sooner than later, but right now he needs to keep improving his game every day in practice and continue to become a more well-rounded player. Obviously the Vikings see a lot of potential in him, which is why he was drafted, but Rudolph and David Morgan are the top two guys right now and it’ll be hard for Hodges to change that in the near future.

I've seen photos and a few videos on Teddy and he looks really great. Is there any definite timeframe on his return or is it safe to say this year is basically a rehab year for him? -- Javaris Lee Batesville, MS

The team has not defined a timetable for Teddy’s return, but that doesn’t mean there’s pessimism about his rehab and return. I know everyone wants the answer to the question of when Bridgewater will be able to return to action, but we just have to accept the fact that there currently is no timetable and it just has to be a wait and see approach.

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