Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Matt Kalil

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Go back and watch any Vikings game from 2014. What did you see? A promising rookie quarterback who struggled early and blossomed late in the year? A defensive end who thrived as a pass rusher and run stopper? A safety who asserted himself as one of the league’s best?

You probably saw all three, but nothing was more apparent than the struggles of the offensive line. Right tackle Phil Loadholt tore his pectoral muscle early in the year, landing on Injured Reserve and missing almost the entire season. Left guard Charlie Johnson, who was released this offseason, struggled in both the run game and in pass protection. However, success is almost impossible when lined up next to a player like 2014 Matt Kalil:

Hopefully, Vikings fans won’t have to watch more of this in the coming season. In a recent interview with the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman, Mike Zimmer explored the idea of shifting the team’s offensive line in 2015 and replacing Johnson with one of three in-house options:

“We are looking at a few guys right now,” he said. “Obviously [veteran] Joe Berger has a chance to fit in with the mix. We have actually been looking at Brandon Fusco moving over to left guard and T.J. Clemmings playing right guard. Also the kid [tackle] Carter Bykowski] that we took off of San Francisco’s practice squad has looked good as well.”

In the same interview, Zimmer shared that Matt Kalil “feels great” and will play with “a chip on his shoulder” in 2015. After the team picked up his fifth-year option, Kalil will need to bounce back from a horrendous 2014 campaign. With two healthy knees, he may have a chance to do just that. On the other side of the line, fourth-round pick Clemmings may see time at right guard; he practiced primarily on the right side, at both guard and tackle, during rookie minicamp.

After the jump, a look at the latest developments around the NFC North:

According to Chris Tomasson, the Vikings will pick up the fifth-year options for both Harrison Smith and Matt Kalil. GM Rick Spielman implied earlier that the 2012 draft picks would be re-signed for 2016, but the team made it official Monday morning.

Smith, drafted No. 29 overall, will bring in a $5.2 million paycheck; Kalil will make $11.096 million as a No. 4 overall pick.

No questions existed about Smith remaining in Minnesota, as he is arguably the top safety on the team and a no-brainer to keep around. In his first three seasons in purple, Smith tallied 192 tackles, 62 assists and 10 interceptions. He also added three sacks in 2014.

Smith played in all 16 games last season; if he stay healthy moving forward, he will continue to play a huge role for the Vikings’ secondary. Tomasson reported that the Vikings plan to work out a longer-term contract with Smith prior to the regular season. Smith has been vocal about wanting to stay with Minnesota, which is great news for fans.

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In the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft the Minnesota Vikings added their seventh rookie to their roster by selecting offensive lineman Tyrus Thompson out of Oklahoma.

Tyrus Thompson is tagged as an athletic left tackle prospect that is inconsistent enough to see himself thought of as nothing more than a Day Three prospect. At 6′ 5″ and 324 pounds, though, he certainly has the appearance of a prototypical NFL tackle.

Some have called his effort and character into question prior to the Draft, which makes him the first Vikings selection of the year with these types of concerns.

For his size, Thompson is agile and quick, resulting in a blocker that can be effective all the way to the second level. His athleticism also makes him a competent pass blocker that causes rushers to struggle getting past him.

The struggling starter Matt Kalil tops the left tackle depth chart, but Thompson seems likely to replace Antonio Richardson as the primary backup. Paired with T.J. Clemmings, the Vikings have now added two offensive linemen on Day Three of the NFL Draft.

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"With those skinny knees, Teddy's probably susceptible to bilateral weakness too."

Your bracket is toast, time to get back to Vikings football! Tom Schreier (@tschreier3) of Cold Omaha and 105 The Ticket joins the show to talk about the latest Minnesota Vikings news, what big things are going down at the Twin Cities newest sports radio station on the rise, as well as Tom’s path in the world of sports journalism at the co-founding of CO.

The Vikings continue to show that they’re truly a year round spectacle as there’s always news/drama brewing as we saw last week with Mike Wallace & the Pounceys, the latest stare-down between Spielman and Adrian’s camp, as well as Adrian birthday camel. Because why not. If AP doesn’t want to be a Viking, at least he can be Aladdin.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Vikings aren’t playing this weekend, but either are 29 other NFL teams… what can you do?  Before getting this week’s Vikings links to you I just wanted to take a second to remind everyone reading this to be safe and smart during and after Sunday’s festivities.

Enjoy the big game, we’ll see the Vikings in there soon enough!

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