MANKATO, Minn. — Andre Patterson is a little torn.
He has been for much of 2015 Verizon Vikings Training Camp.
The Vikings defensive line coach wants to see linemen win one-on-one pass rush drills against the offensive line. On plays the do, however, Patterson's son, A.C. has been standing in at quarterback, providing a bullseye for defensive ends and defensive tackles.
A.C. played center for UTEP, so he's familiar with collisions with defensive lineman, but Linval Joseph is in a completely different realm.
"I've gotten ran into twice by big Linval, right in the ribs, but you've got to take it, stay in the pocket, be tough in there and give them a good look," A.C. said. "It's a little bit scary. He's a big dude, quick and everything. Luckily the o-line and d-line have good battles so sometimes I don't have to move much and sometimes I have to move a lot.
"They usually back off before they hit me too hard, but sometimes they're rushing and don't know where they're at," A.C. said. "Sometimes I might take a shot, but it's OK."
The elder Patterson said, "He's taking some hits from my guys. I told him to move out of the way. 'Those guys are big men, moving fast and can't stop, so don't show your toughness to stand in there because the quarterback is not going to do that. He's going to move out of the way.' "
A.C. is preparing for his first season of coaching offensive line at Portland State, whose nickname is also the Vikings. A ball boy at Broncos training camp when Andre was with Denver in 2006, A.C. said it's been a great to learn from offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, and former NFL/college assistant Hudson Houck (who has helped the Vikings this offseason), as well as seeing Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner's installation process.
He's also benefitting from watching "super smart" center John Sullivan in action.
"He knows just as much football as most of the coaches know and he's a student of the game. He asks questions and wants to get better, so he's a great guy to learn from," A.C. said. "Then, seeing how big Phil (Loadholt) takes his sets and seeing the younger guys fix their problems, that's great for me because I can bring that back to my college guys and say, 'Hey, fix your set this way because you're having the same mistake.' "
A.C. followed the footsteps of his father, who played center at Montana, a team that is on Portland State's schedule in 2015.
View images from the Thursday, August 6 practice at Verizon Vikings Training Camp.
"He taught me to snap as a kid, and that's just kind of what I became and what I like," A.C. said. "I like the whole schematics of the offensive side of the ball rather than the reactionary nature of defense.
The Pattersons are just one of the father-son duos with the Vikings. Head Coach Mike Zimmer's son, Adam, is linebackers coach, and Turner's oldest son, Scott, coaches quarterbacks. Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray's son, Jeremy, is working in the scouting department before returning to SMU.
Coaches Gray and Patterson said they are proud of their sons and grateful they could work with them in Mankato.
"He's always been around football for all his life, so he knows them personally, but the big thing is he knows what a football player looks like and how to grade on a certain scale," Gray said.
Patterson said it's an "unbelievable opportunity for young coaches" to learn the offensive line from Davidson and Houck.
"I told him when I was his age, I was a high school coach, and I would have given my right arm to have an opportunity to be around some of the best coaches in the business that I can learn technique and philosophy from to take back to my guys," Patterson said. "It's a tremendous opportunity for him."
One that's even worth a few bruised ribs.
Fusco, Harris ready: The Vikings slightly revamped offensive line, with two players at new spots, is set to debut Sunday against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
Brandon Fusco is moving from right guard to left guard, and Mike Harris is in line to make his first start at right guard.
"There's some things we've got to work on. We're not perfect yet, but we're going the right way and making progress," Fusco said. "It's a matter of keep harping on each other and talking on and off the field just to be on the same page."
Fusco said he's "seen some very good things from" Harris.
"He's a very strong, athletic kid and he works hard too. He's going to be a great player," Fusco said. "It's good to see someone step up at right guard, and I feel he'll take the position by full grip and go from there."
Harris, who started the final five games of 2014 at right tackle, said he's been working on the combination blocks that are required for a guard and communication with Sullivan at center.
"It's nice having a big guy like Phil on my outside to protect me, but as a group, we're just coming together and I'm excited about getting a good matchup with the Steelers," Harris said. "I know we have training camp and practice, but we definitely want to show a good game as an offensive line and being on the same page and (prevent) sacks and get the running game going."
Lines of linemen:After the first-team offensive line of (from left to right tackle) Matt Kalil, Fusco, Sullivan, Harris, Loadholt, the Vikings practiced with Carter Bykowski (with a few snaps for Babatunde Aiyegbusi), Tyrus Thompson, Zac Kerin, Austin Shepherd and T.J. Clemmings on the second team and Thomspon/Aiyegbusi, Bob Vardaro, Tom Farniok, Isame Faciane and Shepherd on the third team.
No update on Barr, Crichton:Zimmer was asked about the status of linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Scott Crichton for Sunday's game, but said "I don't know yet."
Barr, Crichton, Zach Line, Joe Berger, David Yankey, B.J. DuBose and Gavin Lutman did not participate at Friday morning's practice.
TV on tap: Vikings: Beyond the Gridiron will highlight the return of Adrian Peterson, Mick Tingelhoff's call to the Hall of Fame and the way Isaac Fruechte and Anthony Harris are battling for a roster spot. The first airing of this week's episode is 10 p.m. tonight on WFTC. The first episode of the 2015 season will re-air at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on Fox Sports North and 11 p.m. Sunday on KMSP FOX 9.
The second episode of this season of Vikings GamePlan will air at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on KMSP FOX 9 and at 10 a.m. Sunday on Fox Sports North.