Friday, March 24, 2017

Mike Harris

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Vikings Release John Sullivan
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Following an abrupt injury to Teddy Bridgewater, the Minnesota Vikings announced the final five moves to get the roster to 75 players. Yesterday’s list was filled with practice squad candidates and undrafted free agents, but today’s release includes a few notable names.

Veteran center John Sullivan, who was reportedly being shopped by the team, has been released. General manager Rick Spielman shared a statement on the 31-year-old center, who spent eight seasons in Minnesota following his sixth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.

“Our entire organization appreciates everything that John Sullivan has done for this franchise. Sullivan led our team, not only with how he played the game, but also with how he handled himself in our community. We wish John Sullivan and his family nothing but the best as they move forward.”

Before two back injuries derailed his 2015 season, Sullivan had started 93 games for the Vikings and was a cog in the middle of the offensive line. He battled with Joe Berger for starting duties this preseason, but fell short in his comeback efforts. Berger started Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, solidifying his place as the team’s starter for the foreseeable future.

Outside of his contributions on the field, Sullivan was named Vikings Community Man of the Year in 2013 and remained active in multiple charities.

Depth Takes a Hit for Vikings
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

With one walkthrough practice in the books and nearly two weeks of training camp ahead, the Minnesota Vikings are already struggling with depth. More concerning is the fact that the injuries impact positions where depth isn’t just important; it’s crucial to Minnesota’s 2016 success.

As announced on the team’s official website, the Vikings have officially placed Taylor Heinicke and Mike Harris on he Non-Football Injury/Remains on Active List. They’re joined on the sidelines by Kenrick Ellis and Rhett Ellison, who start training camp as members of the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Is the Offensive Line Fixed?
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This 10-part series focuses on the biggest questions facing the Vikings as they head into Mankato for their training camp festivities. Be sure to answer the first five questions HEREHERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

CAMP QUESTION #6 – MENDED OR MAKESHIFT?

There’s a belief hanging around the Minnesota Vikings that the team will suddenly contend for a Lombardi Trophy. After an offseason of free agent signings and coaching changes, the Vikings appear destined for greatness beyond the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Veterans are returning to full strength, new additions are pushing for starting jobs, and Teddy Bridgewater appears ready to take the next step.

But they won’t have a shot at a Super Bowl if the offensive line is broken. It’s the most crucial question facing the Vikings heading into 2016, and it’s a question that won’t be answered until the regular season begins. General manager Rick Spielman set his roster up to succeed, but it’s on the players at each position to embrace the competition and improve on a disappointing 2015 season.

Old faces, new names, and unknowns make up the 16-man depth chart, which will surely experience changes as the team runs through training camp. A step-by-step walk down the line reveals the strengths, weaknesses, and question marks facing the unit as they prepare for a challenging offseason.

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The start of the 2016 NFL season is getting closer, and soon, fans of the Minnesota Vikings will be able to cheer for their team’s favorite players as they take the field in the Vikings brand new home known as U.S. Bank Stadium. Could this be the year that Minnesota is finally able to get over the hump and capture their very first Super Bowl trophy?

Before the season gets underway, we here at Vikings Territory decided to rank the team’s top 30 players heading into 2016. The rankings are based on submissions from numerous writers that cover the team for various media outlets.

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Out with the old, in with the new

Vikings' starting offensive line
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Competition is the name of the game for the Minnesota Vikings, who completely revamped the look of their offensive line this offseason. Last year’s unit, which featured rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings and reserve center Joe Berger, was a ramshackle bunch of pieces playing out of position.

Mike Harris, traditionally a tackle, was thrust into the lineup as a right guard. Brandon Fusco, the right guard of old, was forced to move to the left side of the line. And Clemmings, no matter how much of a “steal” he was in the draft, clearly wasn’t ready to take the reigns from an injured Phil Loadholt.

Heading into 2016, a pivotal year for the Vikings, general manager Rick Spielman took measures to prevent another disaster up front. His free agent signings — an re-signings — signal an emphasis on protecting third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and solidifying one of the team’s weakest links from 2015:

  • Re-structuring right tackle Phil Loadholt and retaining left tackle Matt Kalil — consistency and continuity at the tackle position can’t hurt, right?
  • Re-signing right guard Mike Harris, who is expected to compete with Brandon Fusco for starting duties next season
  • Signing free agent left guard Alex Boone, who will step in immediately next to Matt Kalil
  • Bringing in free agent right tackle Andre Smith for a visit — the former Cincinnati Bengal is reportedly deciding between Arizona and Minnesota for his next contract

With all of these changes, moves, and potential signings, Spielman is fostering a competitive environment in Minnesota. Presumed starters today may end up on the bench tomorrow; it’s a guessing game at this point of the offseason. And that’s why I asked the VT team to make their best guess and predict the Vikings’ starting offensive line come Week 1. Who will rise and solidify a spot as one of the top-five?

It’s Week 1 of the 2016 regular season. Who is starting on the offensive line for the Minnesota Vikings?

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