Thursday afternoon’s practice saw Vikings players wearing just helmets and soft shoulder pads, so although there wasn’t full-on contact, the men in purple continued to hold an up-beat practice. Also, the afternoon practice ran for just an hour, giving the team a lighter workload after a morning session filled with game-ending and hurry-up situations.
Even with the afternoon practice running a bit on the lighter side, I kept my eye on the men in the trenches to see how the battle between the offensive linemen was fairing. Not being able to go full contact diminished the ability to gauge how each individual offensive lineman was performing, but it was a good opportunity to see the hand and footwork of each player.
It is easy to say that the regular starter’s mechanics – LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Steve Hutchinson, C John Sullivan, RG Anthony Herrera and RT Phil Loadholt – were up to par, but I was equally impressed with a pair of lesser-known OL, 2nd-year T Patrick Brown out of Central Florida and 3rd-year T Chris Clark out of Southern Mississippi
Both Brown and Clark participated on the 2nd-team offense by rotating with each other at LT. It was good to see this pair of Ts competing during practice but it was even more encouraging to watch them stay after practice, along with Loadholt, to work on their conditioning.
“It’s your job on the line every day,” Brown acknowledged of his extra efforts to improve. “I think about it every time I come out here. Every mess up is something that’s gonna stick in the coach’s mind.”
Brown has an obvious awareness of what is at stake during training camp but he also mentioned that getting his rookie year out of the way and gaining close relationships with the veterans on the team has allowed him to have a tighter focus on making the 53-man roster.
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable,” Brown said. “Rookie year is always a whirlwind, you have a lot of nerves. You hear all the stories about all the vets and seeing them at the Pro Bowl. Here, Steve Hutchinson and John [Sullivan] have helped me out a lot.”
Since Thursday afternoon’s practice wasn’t the best time to gauge the battle down in the trenches, I’ll have a more detailed analysis once the team holds another “live” practice, but until then stay tuned to vikings.com.
Tags: Chris Clark, Patrick Brown
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