Saturday, June 25, 2016

john sullivan

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Originally recruited to play tight end, Clemson University guard Eric Mac Lain isn’t your prototypical offensive lineman. A 2011 high school graduate from North Carolina, the 6’5″, 245-pound prospect was the 6th-ranked tight end in the country and a top-60 national recruit, per Rivals. He redshirted as a freshman at Clemson, but played 38 snaps at tight end and 10 snaps at tight end in 2012. By the time 2015 rolled around, Mac Lain had started just one game for the Tigers.

That lack of experience didn’t prevent Mac Lain from becoming a leader for the Tigers, though. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney praised the left guard for his leadership, on an off the field:

“Eric has been an unbelievable leader. He took Mitch Hyatt under his wing, a true freshman left tackle, getting Guillermo back, Ryan Norton battling through injuries, Joe Gore, Maverick stepping in, Crowder, all those guys, they’ve been incredible. It doesn’t matter who we’ve played, they have been incredibly consistent,” Swinney said, per the Clemson Insider.

After making the full-time switch to left guard, Mac Lain anchored a unit that helped the Tigers rush for more than 3,000 yards this season. In the National Championship Game, the offense racked up over 500 yards against one of the country’s best defenses. Mac Lain’s proven he can make a position switch at college football’s highest level, which should make him an intriguing prospect in the middle-to-late rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Vikings Jeff Davidson Offensive Line
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In his final press conference of the 2015 season, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer thanked the University of Minnesota, revealed his players’ offseason surgeries, and announced the release of one of the team’s coaches.

According to Zimmer, the team has parted ways with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. When asked why he chose not to retain Davidson’s contract, Zimmer told reporters, “I didn’t want to.”

Davidson spent five years with the Vikings. He was a holdover from Leslie Frazier’s coaching staff and led a unit that struggled over the past two seasons. In 2014, the line allowed 51 sacks. In 2015, the banged-up group allowed 45 more sacks. Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was the victim of 44 of those — far too many in Norv Turner’s Air Coryell offense.

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Instead of working on a Monday morning (overrated), I decided to yammer on for 40 minutes about the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings offseason, what priorities should/should not be in free agency and the draft, who’s safe and who’s not on the offensive line and which training camp battles I’m excited to see. Straight off the cuff, unprepared (shocker), unrehearsed Vikings takes if you’re into that sort of thing.

All this and other “Shut Up, Old Man” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

After already playing (and defeating) the Detroit Lions twice, Minnesota will now face another of its conference rivals: Chicago. The Bears have certainly looked to be a less-than-stable team so far this season, and the Vikings defense should be enough to handle Jay Cutler and Co.

It cannot be ignored, however, that Cutler is an unpredictable force and on any given Sunday can be playing at one extreme or the other. The Vikings have also historically struggled at Soldier Field. Since 2000, Minnesota has won just one of the 14 road games against Chicago.

There are plenty of factors to consider about Sunday’s game, so let’s see how the two teams match up offensively.


Offensive Line

Now that it’s been all but guaranteed that John Sullivan will not return to the field in 2015, the Vikings know exactly what they’re working with long term. While it’s incredibly difficult to fill Sullivan’s shoes (or cleats, in this instance), Joe Berger has done an okay job stepping in as a veteran who isn’t naturally a center. Heading into Sunday’s game, the biggest concern might be rookie T.J. Clemmings.

While Clemmings hasn’t done too terrible of a job considering he was tossed into the fire in Phil Loadholt‘s absence, the rookie got demolished against Denver in Week 4 and may face a similar situation going up against linebacker Pernell McPhee. Clemmings looked entirely overwhelmed blocking against the Broncos, and McPhee could give him trouble.

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

In Monday’s 2 p.m. press conference, head coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media and announced that center John Sullivan underwent another surgery and is “unlikely” to return during the 2015 season.

In early September, the Vikings placed Sullivan on Injured Reserve after he underwent back surgery; the team announced he was designated to return but would likely miss at least eight weeks. Sullivan hadn’t practiced since mid August due to back spasms, and it now seems the problems will be more long term than originally thought.

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