By Mike Max

MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings have a rare day off in their training camp that’s mandated by the union.

It’s a day to take a breath and reflect on what has been. For veteran offensive lineman Joe Berger, he knows where he’s been, and knows why he is here.

Training camp, a different time when you know your place with the team. Even if you don’t know what position you might play, center or guard. It doesn’t matter to a wiley veteran.

“I think everybody really needs to understand what each of our jobs is so that when you go out on the field, all five of you function as one,” Berger said. “When you have to interchange people, they come in and they play the same as the guy that left.”

He is a basic offensive lineman. But given the status of that unit, he has become an important piece. A piece that is part of a unit that has to be better, has to work together.

“I actually went into last year considering that and then at the end of the season just talking about it, where I was, the team still wanted me back. I felt healthy and I wanted to play the game,” Berger said.

All that after he considered retiring this offseason. Seriously considered it.

“Now I’m a part of the team. It’s fun to play the game, it’s fun to watch other people play the game. The position doesn’t really matter to me, I just want to play the game,” Berger said.

By the time he and the offensive line get to U.S. Bank Stadium, they have to have some things figured out. But it’s just about who’s going to play on the front five. In talking to Mike Zimmer, he says look for two tight-end packages and C.J. Ham at fullback at the same time.

The reason? They’re absolutely committed to running the football.

Mike Max