EAGAN, Minn. — The public window of 2022 Vikings Training Camp practices at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center will open July 30 with Back Together Saturday.
To get you ready for the return of football, we'll go through a position-by-position preview of the Vikings. We started last Tuesday with quarterbacks, and have previewed wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. Up next is Minnesota's offensive line.
Returning starters: LT Christian Darrisaw, LG Ezra Cleveland, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Olisaemeka Udoh, RT Brian O'Neill
Also on the roster (listed alphabetically by last name): T Blake Brandel, G Jesse Davis, G Wyatt Davis, G Ed Ingram, G Kyle Hinton, T Vederian Lowe, T Timon Parris, G/C Chris Reed, G/C Austin Schlottmann and C Josh Sokol
2021 recap: O'Neill and Cleveland played all 1,141 offensive snaps for the Vikings in 2021. A college injury delayed Darrisaw's debut until Week 6, but the Vikings racked up 571 yards in his first start, a 34-28 overtime win at Carolina. After starting the first 39 games of his career, Bradbury landed on Reserve/COVID-19. He didn't immediately return to his starting spot after clearing protocols. Udoh, a former tackle in college, was tried at the right guard spot as 2021 training camp opened. He started the first 11 and final three games of the season at the spot, in addition to filling in for Darrisaw in a pair of contests.
3 Key Questions for Vikings Offensive Linemen
1. What's the plan at right guard?
The Vikings were asking quite a bit from Udoh, given the timing of his first reps at right guard. He put forth effort but also drew the ire of officials with some costly holding penalties.
Minnesota has drafted a college guard from a bigtime program on the second night of each of the past two drafts. Wyatt Davis, a third-round pick in 2021, never emerged to challenge Udoh or veteran interior swingman Mason Cole, who departed this year in free agency. Will he take a step forward this year under new leadership?
Then, there's Ingram, a second-round pick this spring out of LSU who drew some interest.
Minnesota also boosted its options through free agency with the additions of veterans Jesse Davis, Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann. Jesse Davis took the brunt of snaps at right guard with the first unit during the offseason program, followed by Reed.
2. Will Minnesota's scheme help the group play to its strengths?
The Vikings emphasized mobility and athleticism along their offensive line over the past three seasons because of the run game's heavy implementation of the wide zone.
That was one of the special aspects of Bradbury's game, and he's done well on run plays. The lack of continuity on either side of Bradbury and the brute forces who now populate some NFL rosters at defensive tackle spots have caused him some problems when pass blocking.
The Vikings run game could have multiple flavors this season with a wide zone lingering, as well as some mid-zone concepts used by the Rams. Scheme is a broad term that also includes protection strategies and techniques used by the offensive line.
New offensive line coach Chris Kuper, who played on the interior for the Denver Broncos, said he's been impressed by Bradbury's communication. Kuper can help the interior with its protection schemes and responses to attacks other teams are using.
Ideally, the Vikings will be able to capitalize on the strengths of the offensive line and offset any gaps that might present.
View the best photos of Vikings G Ezra Cleveland from the 2021 season.
3. What kind of combo can Darrisaw and Cleveland make?
It may seem a little odd not to feature O'Neill much in a preview of the Vikings offensive line, but the thinking is he's a proven commodity that Minnesota landed in the second round of the 2018 draft and is on his second NFL contract.
On the other end, Darrisaw showed some of the things that made him a first-round pick, even if he may not have been at 100 percent all the time.
Just to Darrisaw's right, Cleveland is preparing for his second consecutive season at left guard after playing right guard as a rookie and left tackle in college.
The pairing of Darrisaw and Cleveland on the left side of the line offers considerable potential.