Two months ago, Matt Kalil and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings offensive linemen were reeling. The Detroit Lions had just sacked rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater eight times, relentless pressure that also led to three interceptions, while forcing seven punts and limiting the Vikings to three points.
Their coach calls them The Iron 5. You can call them a restaurant owner’s worst nightmare. Either way, it’s probably a good thing we didn’t do this interview over lunch.
The Minnesota Vikings offensive line is under siege these days, both from opposing defensive fronts and hyper-critical fans who expect them to do a better job of protecting rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Minnesota Vikings never had to worry about their offensive line last season. With everyone coming back this year, they figured that unit would be the least of their concerns in 2013. But the big guys up front were shaky in the preseason, and that carried over in a season-opening loss to Detroit. Now one of the chief focuses heading into Chicago this weekend is getting the group back to its once-dominant form.
Riley Reiff had a quiet rookie season, playing all 16 games for the Detroit Lions while Jeff Backus remained the starter at left tackle. Now Backus is retired, so that job belongs to Reiff and the first challenge this season will be a formidable one. Reiff and the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings this weekend, which means a visit from pass rushing star Jared Allen.
The Packers-Vikings rivalry could have an extra wrinkle this fall — a sibling rivalry. Toby Gerhart’s in his fourth year as a Vikings running back. His brother Garth, an offensive lineman from Arizona State, is trying to make the team in Green Bay.
This time last year in training camp, the offensive line was one of the Vikings biggest question marks. They had a rookie at left tackle and a couple holes to fill elsewhere. But a year later, that offensive line has proven to be one of the team’s bigger strengths.
Minnesota will enter Nebraska’s raucous stadium on Saturday with a third-string center making the line calls for a makeshift group in front of freshman quarterback Philip Nelson.
Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is facing a big dilemma in the preseason.
Ryan Cook admitted to getting a little nervous as training camps began opening across the league and he was still waiting for a contract.