EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Versatility is one of the most important traits an offensive lineman can have.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer have said as much in the past.
Vikings tackle T.J. Clemmings is proving his worth in offseason practices as the 24-year-old has lined up at both tackle spots.
Clemmings, a fourth-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2015, started every game at right tackle for Minnesota last season.
The offensive lineman told Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com that he's embraced his role on the team.
*Clemmings isn't one to complain about the added responsibility – or the fact that the Vikings spent a lot of money this spring to upgrade their leaky offensive line, making it much more likely that he'll start the year in a backup role, barring injuries to other players. *
"I'm still getting reps. That's a big deal," Clemmings said Wednesday. "Every rep that I get, that's an opportunity for me to get better."
*A swing tackle is a valuable position on a 53-man roster in the NFL. The role, which in the past has been filled by guys like Mike Harris, allows a team to carry just one backup tackle on the active roster each week, saving a precious spot to devote to other positions by effectively backing up both tackle positions with the same guy. *
Clemmings was part of a unit that started the same five offensive linemen every game in 2015. The Vikings were the only team to do so.
And even though Clemmings is now lining up on both sides of the offensive line, his approach hasn't changed.
*That apparently isn't a permission slip for Clemmings to take a step back and learn the ropes from the sidelines. He never got that opportunity in his rookie season, and he doesn't sound ready in mid-June to concede that he might be looking at a backup role, at least early on, this year. *
"You always have to have the mindset of competing no matter what the situation is. That's obviously something that's out of my control," Clemmings said. "You have to be a competitor to play in this league. If you're not competing, you won't be around long."
Greenway, Lamur engaged in friendly competition
There will be plenty of position battles at training camp, and that includes a spot at linebacker.
The Vikings signed linebacker Emmanuel Lamur as a free agent this offseason from Cincinnati and also re-signed veteran Chad Greenway, who is preparing for his 11th season in Minnesota.
Lamur told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that while he's enjoying the daily battles with Greenway, the pair also help each other out when needed.
*Lamur was signed in March as a free agent and is battling Greenway to start at weak-side linebacker. So far, it has been a friendly competition. *
"We all know what's at stake, of course,'' Lamur said at Wednesday's minicamp. "We're competing with each other, but at the same time we're close, man. We're teaching each other, we're learning from each other, we're connecting. We're building that bond, because at the end of day we're a team and we're tying to win one thing, and that's a championship.''