Vikings

Several Players Held Out of Vikings OTAs

The Minnesota Vikings held their second day of OTAs on Wednesday, and while virtually everyone was present, not all were active. Left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd were in uniform but did not participate in team drills, while linebacker Anthony Barr observed from the sidelines in street clothes.

Per head coach Mike Zimmer, Floyd is still dealing with a lingering injury from last season, though the coach didn’t believe it should be a problem into training camp. Floyd suffered knee and ankle injuries in 2015 that caused him to miss several games, which is likely the source of his discomfort.

Zimmer didn’t provide any details on Kalil, though on Barr he said, “I don’t think he’s injured.”

Whatever the case, neither Kalil nor Barr were reported to have had offseason surgery, so they should be ready for training camp barring any setbacks.

In fact, Kalil’s absence may have given us a glimpse into the Vikings’ early pecking order on the offensive line. Former trade acquisition Jeremiah Sirles filled in for Kalil with the first team on the offensive line, while T.J. Clemmings played with the second team. Clemmings, who played right tackle in college, as well as in his rookie NFL season, is learning a new position on the left side this year and may have to re-work his way up the depth chart. For what it’s worth, draft expert Mike Mayock predicted prior to the 2015 draft that Clemmings would make a great left tackle at the pro level.

Offensive line competition begins

The Vikings welcomed John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt back to the fold after they missed 2015 with season-ending injuries, meaning there were plenty of bodies rotating in and out during the team drills.

Phil Loadholt played with the first team at right tackle, along with Brandon Fusco (RG), Joe Berger (C), Alex Boone (LG) and Sirles (LT). Sullivan played on the second team along with Andre Smith (RT), Mike Harris (RG), Zac Kerin (LG) and Clemmings (LT). Of course, the Vikings will be trying numerous line combinations this offseason, meaning Sullivan could easily be elevated to the first team tomorrow, and Loadholt could switch places with Smith at right tackle.

“I don’t want to be an instant evaluator, but Sully has really come back in better shape,” said Zimmer. “He’s looking pretty healthy to me. Phil is working into doing everything, so he’s doing good, too.”

Too much swagger?

Zimmer has an added challenge this season of keeping the Vikings humble after winning their first division title since 2009. The coach said he had to step in during the first session of OTAs to give the team a reality check. “We were kind of cocky and talking smack to one another,” Zimmer said.

After playing the nobody-believes-in-us card to motivate his team last season, Zimmer may not be able to pull that off again now that many pundits are picking the Vikings to do big things. Instead of being the predator, the Vikings are now the prey as the rest of the NFC North tries to knock them off their perch.

“Let’s not try to be someone else because everybody says we’re gonna be this, or we’re gonna be good or whatever,” said Zimmer. “Each year is totally different, and it’s important — I think part of my job is to remind them. I know they’re having fun when they’re out here, but it’s my job to remind them how we have to play in order to win games.”

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