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A Closer Look At Jeff Davidson And The Offensive Line

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 8, 2011 – 5:58 pm

Over the next five days on the vikings.com Blog, we’ll breakdown the Vikings roster position-by-position to give fans a comprehensive assessment of the team as the first preseason game – this Saturday night in Tennessee – approaches. First up is the offensive line.

Jeff Davidson is not a household name in Minnesota. At least not yet. But given how badly Vikings fans want the offensive line to improve this season, something tells me Davidson’s efforts will not go unnoticed.

Davidson is the Vikings offensive line coach and he brings to Minnesota a wide array of experience and also a pedigree of being around successful football programs. He was an offensive lineman and team captain at Ohio State, played for the Denver Broncos for five seasons in the 1990s and eventually got into coaching. After stops in New Orleans and Cleveland, Davidson landed with the New England Patriots on Bill Belichick’s staff, where he was a part of three Super Bowl-winning teams. Following his time in New England, Davidson jumped to Carolina, where he was the offensive coordinator and guided offenses that featured explosive rushing attacks and powerful offensive lines.

With the Vikings, Davidson has the personnel in place to retool an offensive line that features talented and capable players. At least three starters will return for Week 1 – LG Steve Hutchinson, C John Sullivan and RT Phil Loadholt – and a couple of them (Hutchinson and Sullivan) are finally healthy after battling injuries for most of the 2010 season. The Vikings will feature a new LT – probably Charlie Johnson, who replaces Bryant McKinnie – and right now second-year player Chris DeGeare is filling in for Anthony Herrera, who is on the mend and is working hard to get back into the action.

Beyond those projected starters, Davidson has a deep pool of reserves (11 linemen total) that includes nine guys at or under the age of 25, including two draft picks from the 2011 class. The competition for roster spots is truly wide open and difficult to project at this point, even for the coaching staff.

“Am I willing to say [there are] truly ones (first stringers), twos and threes with this group? No, it’s just so I know who’s going to be in the practice at that time,” Davidson explained. “As time goes on, we’ll start whittling it down to who we think is going to help us and we’ll put our best five on the field, then the next six, next seven, next eight. That’s how you have to think of it.”

Although his depth chart is not well defined at this point, Davidson does seem pleased with the work habits of his group.

“I’m happy with the way that we’re working,” Davidson said. “I’ve been to places in the past where you had to really keep a boot up their butts, if you will, about making guys work. You don’t have to do that here. We’ve got guys that have not ‘arrived’ and are completely willing to work to get better.

“What I’m trying to force myself to see in this group, the biggest thing we have to do in the time period we’re trying to get them ready, is force them to see what’s occurring, communicate it out and get five guys acting like one. That’s really what I’m all about. In order to do that, you’ve got to get different guys playing next to each other, you’ve got to get them competing against different guys on defense, so it’s not the same daily grind.”

For what it’s worth, I did keep track of which players were working with which teams on Monday. Granted, this was just one day’s worth of practice, and depth charts change frequently during training camp, but I know many of you are curious to know who is playing. Here’s what I found on Monday…

– Seth Olsen filled in for Hutchinson at first-team LG for parts of Monday morning’s practice.
— Pat Brown and DeMarcus Love are alternating at second-team LT, with the nod going Brown at the moment. But don’t count Love out; he can probably play both LT and RT, plus I saw him get dinged up (knee) during practice and then quickly return, perhaps a display of the toughness you need in offensive linemen.
— Conan Amituanai and Byron Isom are alternating at second-team LG.
— Jon Cooper and Brandon Fusco are alternating at second-team center.
— Ryan Cook is the second-team RG and Rodney Huntley is right behind him.
— Thomas Welch and Scott Kooistra are alternating at second-team RT, but I think the slight edge goes to Kooistra here.

Finally, I asked Davidson about Loadholt. I think Loadholt had a fine rookie season and kind of plateaued in 2010. Now that’s he’s fully healthy and has Davidson as a tutor, I think Loadholt is poised to improve this year and perhaps develop into a dominant, road-grading blocker in the run game. Loadholt’s disposition off the field is calm and collected, but on the field he clearly has a mean streak, which is a good trait for an offensive lineman to possess.

It sounds like Davidson sees that mean streak as well. More importantly, though, Davidson sees a self-motivated player in Loadholt.

“Oh yeah, I do,” Davidson when asked if he saw the same mean streak in Loadholt that I see during games and practice. “I think he’s a tough guy. He’s another guy that you don’t have to [motivate] to practice hard. He just naturally does that. Those guys are easy to work with because they are constantly working.”


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44 Responses to “A Closer Look At Jeff Davidson And The Offensive Line”

  1. By Woodboat on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks for the update on the O Line, Wobs. Here’s hoping that Davidson can do what the last guy obviously couldn’t… turn this group into a line that fans can be proud of. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the work the fellas do, but the results last year were less than inspiring. Dismal may be a better word. Hopefully it was a product of poor coaching…

  2. By Titus on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    Hire Fred Jones as assistant OL coach.

  3. By Arrow86 on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    I liked hearing the depth chart, and Coach Davidson’s thoughts on things. Hopefully things are going in the right direction (toward the Viking goal line!)

    @Wobs: I liked the Mic’d practice with Coach Dunbar. Seeing how a coach works with any athlete at any level and the verbage they use, gives me a sense of how they motivate, what techniques do they stress at the highest priority. If I missed it, I’m sorry, but if you do a Mic’d practice with Singletary I’d love to see it!

  4. By Daniel on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    The thing that bothers me is the only props I have heard is just a little on Loadholt and a ton on the D-line. SEE THE PROBLEM HERE? Hutch is already dinging up. Our O-line reserves are as talented as our Safeties. Why do they not see this? We need A star at Saftey. That star is Taylor Mays! We need this guy and we need A better LT. Jamal Brown would be a great pickup. Just ask Adrian.

  5. By Parody on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    Taylor Mays may have star potential, but all reports indicate that he has yet to live up to it. Although he has great physical skills, he is criticized for getting beat on deep plays. This was the biggest problem for our defense last year, so we need to keep that in mind.

    I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to see Mays added to the lineup, but I’d like to make sure we get him for the right price. He is young with a boatload of potential. Still, I wouldn’t trade anything more than a 5th round pick for him, and the niners are probably hoping to get a bit more than that.

    Be patient and see how it plays out. We are currently fighting to find ways to cut the roster down below the salary cap. We’ll be seeing a lot of interesting, and likely more than a couple questionable moves in the next few weeks to meet those needs. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

  6. By Mike B on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    So far just speculation no Taylor Mays, that Cowboys and Vkings are looking at him. We are in the best place to know his talents ad Singletary was his head coach last year. If he’s really all that good, I am sure there will be serious negotiations. I am wondering on a trade how high a draft pick will we have to give up for him. Have a great day. Mike W how about some indication how serious the shoulder injury to Hutch. Thanks for any info you can give us.

  7. By Daniel on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    Johnson seems like a better Guard than a Tackle. He started as a guard as a colt and moved to Tackle because tony ugho sucked. Does this remind anyone of someone? Hicks perhaps? Do you hear any more of the great versitile Hicks? Nope. Johnson, I`m afraid is going to frustrate alot of people unless he is pushed over to RG. We Need that LT right about now and Jamal Brown could get back to the dominant form he once had coming out of OKlahoma blocking for peterson. Man, our line is a mess.

  8. By Titus on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    Fred Jones was right all along.

  9. By Mike B on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    yes Titus I already gave him kudos on this issue.

  10. By Mike B on Aug 8, 2011 | Reply

    It wouldn’t have been so bad hadn’t Big Mac come to camp as he did. He force the Coach’s hand. He had to cut him for good of the squad, the salary Big Mac was due, he wouldn’t be ready till close to season opener, and his health. I fully support Coach on cutting Mac. It left our OL unstable. We will see if things gel together and they are much better in 4 weeks. They could lose all 4 preseason games as long as they get better playing each time it’s a win for us.

  11. By Daniel on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Here is a point that all should recognize. LETROY GUION. His age, size, speed and play should be buzzing right now louder than Brian Robinson. First off He should be considered a rookie this year because of age. second, last year he put up great numbers for someone coming off the bench. 12 and 2 sacks. Robinson started two games and had 13 tackles and 2 sacks. Griffen played in only 11 games And had 11 tackles. Starting Robinson bothers me, and I feel like Guion Will win Pats spot. He looks awsome in camp and has a ton of upside and size to go with it. Robinson, not so much. I would rather see Robinson as a LB. Can`t wait to see the first preseason game. Keep an eye on Guion and Griffen and Reed. But most of all, count our saftey mistakes. The evidence will speak for it self. GO GET Taylor Mays!

  12. By Mike B on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Vikikngs Daily is predicting 4 TE will be kept. Shank, Rudolph, Kliensasser, and Dugan 5 WR Berrian, Harvin, Jenkins, J Johnson, G Carmarillo That leaves that CFLer on the outs. Was wondering how you all see it. Have a great day.

  13. By Rocksalt on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    camarillo nedds to step it up in a major way……..

  14. By Daniel on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    As far as Keeping The Kliensassage is a bad move. The guy looks like he is falling apart. I liked him before the loveboat days but I would rather have a better backup O-line vet. Lets face it. our Line bench just flat out sucks. The only good reserve off the line is fussco and he is a rookie. Cook will do too i guess, but the rest are hardly practice squad guys. I will go to my point again. How much have you heard about our line to our D-line? I heard our LT has a hard time VS Allen. That should not be. It should be more level that that. Allen is good yes. But in our division alone we have some great DE. Throwing the Kliensassage with Johnson all the time just sounds too fimiliar. Rudolph can hold his own, shank too. Drop the sassage and pick up a free agent like Jamal Brown for some competition for The new guy.

  15. By Carl K on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Tyrell Johnson injuried! I don’t think it is serious, but dang, it just seems like something is always holding him back from being a starter.

    Ok, I am now ready to jump on the “trade for Taylor Mays” wagon. I think I would trade a 5th round pick and throw in Camarillo or Kleinsasage to get the deal done.

  16. By B-Pro on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    I really don’t see where we improved at all except for picking up a vet qb for at least 1 year in McNabb. Not real positive that will work with our off-line problems that still really haven’t been addressed. Our Db’s are still bad and haven’t been addressed and I question our def-line issues and Robinson at De. In looking at our schedule it is very possible we start out at 0-2. I can see Rivers lighting us up out there and then coming home to play a Tampa team that is on the rise and think were on the decline. I hope we have a great season but think were going to be no better then 8-8 and that’s stretching it.

  17. By mike da great on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    go and get drc from eagles heard he is on the trading block not samuels anymore

  18. By mike da great on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    get drc he’s on the trading block

  19. By mike da great on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    our defense need a play maker in the back end and heard there lookin for a 2nd or 3rd round pick that guys worth it cant find any corner better than him in those round next year i bet we let him slip away though like we always do

  20. By Carl Brodin on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    I agree with Daniel that we need to pick up another OL-OT like Jamal Brown to compete with Johnson our new guy. I also agree with B-pro we need to trade for Taylor Mays S but i think it might take a higher pick than a 5th round pick maybe a 3rd round pick or at least a 4th round pick plus a player or 2. Maybe e can trade Kleinsasser free up 3million that his salary commands and possibly a WR we have. It would seem that the S & OL position are our weaknesses lets fill them and move forward.

  21. By Ekolu on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    What does Taylor Mays have to do with any of this. If he was so good, why didn’t Pete Carroll draft him. He does not Track the ball real well, his game film shows him getting burnt on deep patterns. As a safety, if you can’t cover the 9 routes, then they call you either an LB or NFL–not for long.

  22. By fuzzy on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Rocksalt, I agree with you, Camarillo needs to step it up. I don’t believe he’s a lock to make the team, even after a fairly solid year last year. I’m a little surprised that they’re going to keep 4 TEs. Shank and K-Rudy as receivers, Jimmy for blocking and Dugan will probably be played at FB when applicable.

    Another reason Camarillo might not make the cut is that I think we can look forward to seeing K-Rudy lined up in the slot quite a bit.

  23. By Ekolu on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Also Taylor Mays is still under contract for 3 or 4 years.

  24. By Titus on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Camarillo is an interesting player– seemed to be reliable, but not a play maker. But there were a few plays later in the season where he showed extreme drive to make something happen– I recall one punt return where he made some exceptional moves all across the width of the field and made a big gain– but I think it was called back due to a penalty– I don’t remember. Then there was the play where he flew down the field and knocked the ball out of a defender (after an interception I think) who was about to score (around the one yard line). So, I am not so sure he will be cut— he has reliability and heart— he might prove very valuable.

  25. By LESLIE FRAZIER on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    BRANDON FUSCO NEEDS TO WORKOUT THIS SEASON TO GET VERY STRONG AND NEXT YEAR BE OUR STARTING CENTER CAUSE JOHN SULLIVAN IS WEAK. I ALWAYS SEE HIM GETTING TOSSED AROUND. FUSCO IS BUILT LIKE A LEGENDARY CENTER. ALSO WE SHOULD GET A DANG SAFETY. VIKINGS KEEP FORGETTING ABOUT THIS POSITION. A SAFETY IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE SCHEME WE PLAY. GET ONE IMMEDIATELY. AND I LOVE THE FACT THAT DEGEARE IS GOING TO START AT RIGHT GUARD. HE REALLY PROVED TO BE THE STARTER HIS ROOKIE SEASON. HE IS GOING TO BE THE BEST LINEMAN WE HAVE..ON THE SAME LEVEL AS HUTCHINSON :) I BELIEVE IN OUR OFFENSIVE LINEMAN. YOU GUYS CAN PANCAKE ANYONE IN YOUR WAY TO THE SUPER BOWL. KEEP THIS IN MIND. IF STRENGTH AND SPEED CANT GET THE JOB DONE, USE TECHNIQUE

  26. By Dcox4 on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Camarillo is a good number 4 or 5 possesion guy. Good for third downs, he will most likely stay for that reason

  27. By Mike B on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    @ Ekolu San Fran is heavy with backfield personel and looking to trade Mays and sent out to all teams they would like to trade him.

  28. By Dcox4 on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    We need to get Taylor Mays since we didnt get any of the other top guys. With a head coack like we have who played db for a great defense he can mols him. And pete carroll just cant draft all his old players its not how it works. Sorry to disagree Ekolu but he is going to be a good player who is athletic and young and atleast better then the guys we have. Unless cook can step up and we move weinfield to safety and thats not gonna happen.

  29. By Daniel on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    The great advantage we have of picking up a guy like Mays, is Singleterry. Singleterry Wanted mays so badly, he got into a heated agument during the draft about who to pick with the second pick. I don`t blame Carrol for picking up Earl Thomas, I would pick him over Mays too. But he did sign T-jack, he did let Lofa go, he is signing lieber. Need I go on. Mays has a Big time Bright future. Abdullah had 15 starts last year and made 54 tackles. Mays started 6 games and had 31 solo tackles. His speed and ability can be installed. They say he can not cover, but the guy is one of the best hard hitting safties in the Nfl. Not to mention fastest. Can he learn, that is the question. Singleterry wanted him bad enough for a 2nd rounder. We almost took him in the first. Lets Go pick this future star up. atleast then we can be happy. I would rather see a strong saftey core than a all star wr core any day.

  30. By Noah on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    These fans are smart when he in the draft i said vikings should draft taylor mays ? now it looks like he is on his way. i would love to see him as a viking he will be a huge threat no one will throw his way

  31. By Frederick Jones on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Titus and Mike B.,

    Thank you for your support. I tend to look like a know-it-all when it comes to the offensive line. But it’s really just that I focus, and read about it.

  32. By Frederick Jones on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    When was the last time the Vikings picked up somebody we were PUSHING them to get???

    Randy Moss~~~NO that was a surprise

    Charles Johnson~~~~NO, most of us had never heard of him.

    Donavan McNabb~~~A few people did, but it was not a big campaign !

    Jared Allen~~~I’m not sure, I wasn’t blogging back then.
    Randall Cunningham~~~Same
    Herschel Walker~~~~Same

    etc., etc.

  33. By Frederick Jones on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    It’s possible that NFL coaches now look at offensive linemen the same way Bill Belichick has theorized.

    That is that, you can teach offensive linemen footwork pretty easily. They only have to move around in a very small area, unlike WR, RB, etc. who must run many yards on every play.

    Therefore it’s best (according to this theory) to draft linemen very low, and just teach them the basics. Belichick claims you can develop very effective linemen this way.

    Now we have a former Line coach who Belichick apparently liked, and is a former offensive coordinator. He certainly must have the same theory.

    I still think that the best offensive linemen are great athletes.

    It must be hard for Frazier and Spielman to get who they want, and we are limited by the Cap.

  34. By Frederick Jones on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t necessarily subscribe to the Belichick Offensive Line Theory.

    The trend in the NFL right now seems to be “Do what Belichick does.”

    Frazier and Spielman must realize there are better ways to do things, but maybe they are handicapped by the Salary Cap.

    “““ :) :) :)

  35. By Dyelan on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    Get Taylor Mays. A potential start safety could put this defense over the top. Yes do cut Kliensauser, use that money to get us some o-line help or Randy Moss.

  36. By mikebrown on Aug 9, 2011 | Reply

    …………….yawn……………………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  37. By David P on Aug 10, 2011 | Reply

    The vikings need to realize that the team is rebuilding and you cannot rebuild without draft picks. Players are on thre trading blocks because they are not the best at their position. The vikings need to stop wasting draft picks on players who are now not very good. With all the holes the vikings have, trading for a safety is not going to make the vikings better than 8-8. It is going to be a long year for the viking faithful.

  38. By B-Pro on Aug 10, 2011 | Reply

    Listen, we need help everywhere. Our best current receiver is Percy when he is on the field, but can he play a full season. That’s a problem. It looks like the Viks are going to lean on AP alot more this year with more carries per game and I think that will take its toll on AP as the year goes on. He was banged up last year some and missed games. Our current off-line will keep AP banged up all year. Other def. know that and will stack line, give AP 80-100yds per game and force us to throw the ball. Listen our division has some of the best def. ends in the league and our sub-par line has to deal with that. I’ve been a viking fan for almost 40 yrs and don’t even live in Minn. or Wis. You other Viking fans must be kidding yourselves if you think this is a playoff team. I’m just praying we don’t finish in the bottom of our division.

  39. By 4eversteve on Aug 10, 2011 | Reply

    Pat Morris had probably lost this group at the end of the 09 season, they just didn’t seem to want to respond to his coaching. The change was needed, Jeff Davidson will get right up in some grills when they mess up. They needed more discipline and more accountability when their play is not up to expectations, make them run lapse or do push ups and that let them know that there will be consequences for metal errors and lack of efforts is not acceptable nor will it be tolerated !

  40. By Frederick Jones on Aug 10, 2011 | Reply

    Mike Brown are you trying to be funny, or are you better than the rest of us?

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