General News

Two New Starters at Sunday’s Practice

With one preseason game in the books, the Vikings are doing some shuffling atop of the depth chart.

When the team returned to practice Sunday, there were two new faces in the starting lineup. Most notably, Andre Smith had been demoted to second team and T.J. Clemmings was practicing as the starting right tackle, according to numerous media outlets.

Obviously this doesn’t mean he’s been demoted from the starting lineup from here on out; it simply means he wasn’t practicing with the starters for one day. But by most accounts, Smith (and the rest of the starting offensive line) had a rough night Friday. It’s not surprising the coaching staff is at least looking at other options at right tackle, especially given his history of underachieving. Then again, Clemmings didn’t exactly set the world on fire upon being forced into action last season, so my bet is the team will do everything in its power to let Smith win the job. He’s by far the most talented option at the position (even if it didn’t look like it in Cincinnati).

In his press conference Sunday, Mike Zimmer didn’t seem overly concerned about the offensive line play on in the first preseason game. He did mention Smith getting beat around the edge by Carlos Dunlap, but also that the Bengals pass rush was rushing “12 yards” downfield, and in that case the job of the offensive line is to guide the defenders past the quarterback and allow Bridgewater to step up in the pocket. In that case, it can look like the offensive linemen are getting beat. Also, after a rough first series, the offensive line did show some improvement throughout the first half.

The other new (old) starter in Sunday’s practice was Terence Newman, who took over at left cornerback for Trae Waynes.

Newman, of course, was last year’s starter, and was running with the first team through most of training camp before being made inactive for Friday’s game due to an undisclosed injury. Waynes got the start and played reasonably well, especially on balls thrown downfield. Zimmer said he “did some good things,” but also lamented his coverage on shorter routes and indicated he needs to do a better job contesting passes thrown in front of him.

Newman’s mysterious injury seems to have cleared up, though how long he can hold of last year’s eleventh-overall pick remains to be seen. VT’s Adam Warwas and Austin Belisle expect Waynes to supplant Newman by Week 1 of the regular season, and given Newman’s age and the progress Waynes has shown in training camp, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re right. But, as of practice on Sunday, August 14, the starting job still belongs to Terence Newman.

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Sam Neumann

Sam Neumann is a freelance writer and lifelong Vikings apologist. He has seen his share of Vikings-related heartbreak, but believes we are united by the hope that one day that norse ship will come in. Sam is the author of three books, including the New York Times Bestseller Memoirs of a Gas Station. He lives in Denver, Colorado, and has had it with Broncos fans. You can follow him on twitter @NeumSamN.

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10 Comments

  1. Clemmings was a rookie last year. Why do you keep knocking him? He only going to get better the more experience he gets. Some of these bloggers act like one year make a career of a rookie. Some players take a few years to develop.

    1. Hi WTF. I “knock” him because he wasn’t very good. It’s not an indictment of his future potential, it’s an honest assessment of his only season. Clemmings has the opportunity to improve like every other player, and if and when he does, I’ll be as happy as anyone else. Until it happens, I’ll continue to work with the data I have.

      1. Anyone know Clemming’s PFF scores last year, especially run blocking (decent, I thought) vs. pass blocking (ugly), especially as the season went on?

  2. Clemmings did show some improvement but not until very late in the season. Maybe he will be starter worthy in the future. I am not thinking that he is there yet even with the improvement he showed by week 12 or so. Andre needs to step it up. If Harris comes back he will likely be starting at RT if Andre does not.

  3. Fantastic, If TJ wins the RT job and Berger wins the Center job, we have almost the same shit show we had last year, just with Boone replacing Harris

  4. Smith will be the starter. It’s still preseason.

    Mike Kano and I watched the new Sausage Party movie a half dozen times this weekend. Watching the movie was easy, but when we got home, Mike insisted on re-enacting the major scenes.

    I’m exhausted.

  5. Friday night I took my eyes off the ball to focus on RT Smith, his man beat him repreatedly, Clemmings’ move is a message to Smith but have to stay tuned to see if TJ can ‘gather wheat another man spills.’

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