Last Friday night, the Minnesota Vikings did not play offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings in the second preseason game at Seattle. Up to this point, no one knows why. The team hasn’t released any information on the situation. The move could have been a disciplinary measure, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.
Bubble players generally play in the preseason; yet Clemmings was a healthy scratch against Seattle. Even with an injury to presumed-starter Alex Boone that kept him out of the game, Clemmings did not dress. Nick Easton took Boone’s place at left guard, where Clemmings had been playing in practice.
ProFootballFocus took the benching as a sign Clemmings has fallen out of favor with the coaches and team. The claim hasn’t been substantiated, but, they might be onto something.
A 2015 fourth-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh, Clemmings saw action immediately as a rookie. Phil Loadholt, the team’s right tackle, was out for the year due to a torn Achilles. Clemmings started all 16 games. He did not fare well.
In 2016 Clemmings replaced left tackle Matt Kalil, who suffered a hip injury in Week 2 as was out for the year. Clemmings started the remaining 14 games, and his performance was even worse than in 2015.
This offseason, the Vikings changed his position to guard, hoping to see better results. Unfortunately, this has been the general outcome:
atta boy TJ pic.twitter.com/ZQa896U5Jt
— Drew Mahowald (@DrewMahowald) August 11, 2017
The PFF grades and game tape strongly suggest Clemmings hasn’t grasped the game at the pro level. He hasn’t shown any signs of improvement in two years. Perhaps sitting him at Seattle was a tactic by the coaching staff to light a fire beneath the 25 year-old.
If not, it appears the Vikings may have already made their decision on Clemmings’ future. Sunday’s game against San Francisco may hold that answer.