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T.J. Clemmings Tackling Multiple Positions


EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — It's best to keep a keen eye on T.J. Clemmings during Vikings practices or games.

The second-year offensive tackle has lined up on the right side with the first team on some days, and the left side others. Clemmings has worked with the second team at left tackle and stepped in with the first team for Matt Kalil this week.

In addition to being evaluated as a starting right tackle, where he started all 16 games in 2015, Clemmings is also being considered for the role of Minnesota's swing tackle, a versatile player who can play on either side of the line and provide depth to the unit.

"Wherever the coaches tell me to go, that's where I go," Clemmings said.

The 2015 fourth-round draft pick said he has no preference on which side he plays. The 24-year-old said his job remains the same.

View images from the team's practice at U.S. Bank Stadium on Friday, August 26.

"There's a different style of rushes sometimes," Clemmings said. "But for me it's pretty much the same concepts — block the guy, run the plays and get going."

Clemmings stepped in as a rookie when Phil Loadholt was injured in the preseason and was part of the only offensive line unit in the NFL to start the same five players the entire regular season.

A year later, Clemmings has a new position coach in Tony Sparano. And a better grasp of how team success is often based on how well the entire offensive line performs.

"Just a better understanding of phases of the game and how we can work together," Clemmings said. "And how important every position is on every play.

"As an offensive linemen, you can't have mistakes or mental errors or things like that because it could stop a big play from happening," he added. 

Defensive end Brian Robison said he's seeing a progression in Clemmings, who spent the first half of his college career at the University of Pittsburgh as a defensive lineman.

"Clemmings is going to be OK. He's just got to keep grinding it out and figuring out what works for him," Robison said. "He's a young guy, only going into his second year. Obviously, he's got to adjust to the game a little bit, but T.J.'s got a bright future.

"Sometimes he's got to learn not to be so technical and things like that and do what works for him. I think right now, that's what he's trying to figure out, what works for him," he added, "but one thing I think one thing that he does really well is he has a really good punch so sometimes he can get inside and hit your pads and stop those rushers."

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