The Vikings have a strong foundation along the offensive line, with C John Sullivan running the show and three other starters returning to the group. Injuries mounted last season, though, and the Vikings used the draft and offseason development of other younger returners to address depth concerns at multiple spots. Will it be enough to generate improvement from this group? There's plenty of reason to think so.
View some of the best images of the Vikings offensive line from the offseason program.
Here's where the Vikings stand along the OL heading into training camp…
Total going to camp: 16
Total on 2014 opening day roster: 9
Average age: 25 years old
Most experienced: Joe Berger – 33 years old with 11 seasons
Rookies: 6 (Babatunde Aiyegbusi, TJ Clemmings, Tom Farniok, Austin Shepherd, Tyrus Thompson, Bob Vardaro)
Position Coach: Jeff Davidson
Continuity can be an offensive line's greatest strength and the Vikings should attain a great level of that with four starters returning. John Sullivan anchors it all in the middle, OTs Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt bookend things, and Brandon Fusco returns from an injury that shortened his 2014 season. Fusco worked primarily at LG this offseason after playing RG since 2011, so there may be a changing of the guard along the line.
Changing of the Guard
A changing of the guard has opened up a starting job at RG and there are a handful of Vikings with their eye on that prize. Rookie TJ Clemmings took the bulk of the first team reps at RG this offseason, but fellow rookie Tyrus Thompson got some action late in the offseason, Joe Berger is as reliable as the day is long and second-year player David Yankey is poised to show improvement after riding the pine as a rookie in 2014. This is a position battle to watch this summer as the Vikings gear up for 2015.
Calling for Backup
If the Vikings learned anything last year, it's that depth along the OL is vital. The Vikings dealt with several injuries to the offensive line and eventually wound up having to replace three starters. The team made it a priority to improve depth this offseason and it will be interesting to see if their efforts paid off. Players such as Berger, Carter Bykowski, Mike Harris, Austin Shepherd, Tyrus Thompson and David Yankey all figure to vie for positioning on the depth chart at multiple spots. Then there is the competition for the backup behind Sullivan, which will include Berger, rookie Tom Farniok and Zac Kerin. Veteran Mike Harris has the ability to fulfill this role, but it will be interesting to see if Babatunde Aiyegbusi can show any potential and it
Can 'Babs' Prove He Belongs?
At 6-9, 345 pounds and hailing from Poland, Aiyegbusi captured the attention of Vikings fans this offseason when the team signed him. Many are curious as to whether 'Babs' can make the team and, if so, how he can help the team. The truth is, despite all the conversation surrounding his inclusion to this point, not much has been gleaned about his ability. There's only so much you can evaluate about the performance of linemen in the offseason program. The truer evaluation will come in Mankato.