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singersp
04-09-2006, 04:09 PM
Posted on Sun, Apr. 09, 2006

Revamped line has Vikings optimistic

ASSOCIATED PRESS

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - New Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked what he thought of the offensive line on the first day of his first mini camp in Minnesota.

"I've got other places I've got to watch," Childress said. "That's why I've got that tape that I can go back in and watch right now."

For once, the offensive line is not one of the biggest worries for the Vikings. The patchwork unit struggled mightily for most of last season, but with one big free agent signing, and the recuperation of a former Pro Bowl center, the Vikings may have turned a weakness into a strength.

Armed with more than $30 million in cap room, the Vikings resisted the temptation to spend big money on a high-profile running back like Edgerrin James. Instead, they signed Chester Taylor at a bargain price of $14 million, then threw a big chunk at All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson, signing him to a seven-year $49-million deal that is the richest for a guard in league history.

The offer sheet included a "poison pill" clause in which his contract becomes guaranteed if he's not his team's highest-paid offensive lineman. He had previously been named Seattle's transition player.

The Seahawks contested the deal, but an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Vikings, and now Hutchinson is happy to have that controversy behind him.

"Up until (Friday), everything was about me being new, the poison pill, the contract and what the league wants to do to amend the rule or whatever," Hutchinson said. "Now it is back to football and putting on a helmet and being able to play. You can kind of put that behind you, so it's nice."

Equally as giddy to get on the field was center Matt Birk, who missed all of last season while recovering from hip surgery.

"I almost felt like a rookie again, but that's OK," Birk said, smiling. "I'll take it."

Birk made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in 2004, but a torn labrum in his hip kept him out all last season. The absence of the cerebral leader, and one of the best pulling centers in the league, was a crushing blow to the unit.

Backups Cory Withrow and Melvin Fowler couldn't fill Birk's shoes, and both were let go in the offseason.

"He's the guy that's telling everybody which direction to go," Childress said. "That's huge to have a center that's a smart guy, a physical player in there, directing both sides of the offensive line."

He shouldn't have to carry as much of a load this season, with Hutchinson and improving left 6-foot-8 tackle Bryant McKinnie helping to form one of the best left sides in the league.

"We're very happy with the left side," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "I think those three guys are great players. Whether it's the best combination in the league, they haven't played together yet, so we'll reserve our comments on that until we've seen them all play together."

That's what this weekend has been about for the offensive line -- getting acquainted with one another. While the left side is solidified, the Vikings have been tinkering more on the right side, rotating Anthony Herrera and Adam Goldberg at guard and Marcus Johnson and Mike Rosenthal at tackle.

Revamped line has Vikings optimistic (http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsuperior/sports/14302353.htm)

DaunteHOF
04-09-2006, 06:20 PM
might need a right guard cause none of the options make me feel good about the right side.

Eyedea
04-09-2006, 06:27 PM
I remember hearing like three years ago that Chris Liwinski was one of the most underrated gaurds in the league, and should have been discussed in the top 20 or so gaurds. Now he's fighting for a spot on the team

V4L
04-09-2006, 06:29 PM
Max Jean Gilles- second round if we can

singersp
04-09-2006, 06:37 PM
I'm not sure about the right side yet myself, but I'm positive it will be addressed.

WinonaVike
04-09-2006, 06:59 PM
The right side makes me very very nervous, and even if we do address it in the draft its hard for a rookie to step right in and play. Marcus had a lot of trouble, especially if it was more than a 2 count snap. It took Mckinnie a couple years to be the player he is starting to turn into. So with that said, I assume we will draft someone but it still doesnt make me feel better about that side.

alberta_vike
04-09-2006, 07:07 PM
I thought Marcus Johnson looked pretty good when he was moved to tackle at the end of last year. I really feel like he will do pretty well there.

The right guard spot I am a bit concerned about. Neither Herrera nor Goldberg is that great. However, I don't know if a rookie will be much of an improvement this season. Additionally, they both lookd like they could develop into good players if they are given the chance.

If the line at the start of the season was:

McKinnie - Hutchinson - Birk - Herrera - Johnson

I would feel pretty confident in that. I wouldn't be very surprised to see Liwienski take the right guard spot either.

I think the biggest difference between this year and last is we have some depth on the line. Liwienski, Rosenthal, Whittle, and Goldberg is a pretty good group of backups.

mogwai
04-10-2006, 12:53 AM
MJ was a rookie last year.for god's sake give him a chance.not many ot's do well their first year..the line will be fine.

VikesFan4Life
04-10-2006, 12:57 AM
I think it was written somewhere that Liwienski played hurt (shoulder) all season last year and that his play suffered greatly.

Just something to think about; Liwienski was actually looking pretty good the year before.

VikesfaninWis
04-10-2006, 01:25 AM
The right side of the line is extremely weak at this point. It is nice to know that we have a dominating left side to the line though.. I hope we can do something with the right side sooner rather than later.

alberta_vike
04-10-2006, 01:34 AM
The right side of the line is extremely weak at this point. It is nice to know that we have a dominating left side to the line though.. I hope we can do something with the right side sooner rather than later.

The right side of the line is not in as bad of shape as people seem to think. Between Marcus Johnson, Anthony Herrera, Chris Liwienski, Adam Goldberg, and Mike Rosenthal, we should have two pretty solid starters.

Johnson was a rookie last year and really came on at the end of the season.

Herrera also demonstrated, to me anyways, that he can play in the NFL. Not 100% sure if he is good enough to be a starter right now, but he is definitely coming along. He, like Johnson, is very young and could develop into a very good player.

As for Liwienski, Goldberg, and Rosenthal, we have all seen what they can do. I think Liwienski and Goldberg both have a chance to start this year. Either way they will provide good depth.

PurpleRide
04-10-2006, 02:19 AM
I think the right side of the line as well as QB are the biggest weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball. I hope they can adress both problems soon.

magicci
04-10-2006, 03:22 AM
"PurpleRide" wrote:

I think the right side of the line as well as QB are the biggest weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball. I hope they can adress both problems soon.
QB is not a weakness its just not a big plus as in recent years and we are short on quality reassurement. but it is not a big weakness.

viks_fan21
04-10-2006, 03:41 AM
"Vikez4Lyfe" wrote:

Max Jean Gilles- second round if we can

I would go for that if we had a proven veteran at RT, but we don't. Imagine the holds, false starts, and blown assignments with Gilles (rookie) lining up next to M. Johnson (2nd year).

Lotza
04-10-2006, 04:14 AM
yeah i am sooo pumped for our o-line.

HUTCH is KING!

kyleo1967
04-10-2006, 04:18 AM
Keep in mind that defenses will have to stack the left side, so the right side won't see full strength d all the time

viks_fan21
04-10-2006, 04:30 AM
"kyleo1967" wrote:

Keep in mind that defenses will have to stack the left side, so the right side won't see full strength d all the time

True, also look at Seattle's offensive line last year. They had Chris Gray and Sean Locklear starting, but they were still considered a premier offensive line. I think that if we gel our O-line will be almost as good as Seattle's line was last year.

Natedogg
04-10-2006, 04:58 AM
Yep, RG is a worry, but we do have so mcuh depth there it wont be worth it to draft one. Hopefully MJ fills out cause I think he will be good, just dont know when. Lewinksi should get the opening day nod, but I would like to see a few guys get some starts at that position. I believe avoiding Ofensive Line injuries is the most important issue, and with our depth we can offord to lose one non-probowler to injury.

MensaTice
04-10-2006, 05:49 AM
Revamped line has MensaTice optimistic

BradTheMan14
04-10-2006, 06:11 AM
dudes..chris lewinski is an 86 on madden!!! that means hes good!! then marcus johnson is good too!!

BradTheMan14
04-10-2006, 06:13 AM
plus theres mikey rosenthal! hes from NY! they train their olinemen very well! if you've ever watched nfl network and seen 6 days to sunday or in their own words with strahan they have good guys over there