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John Sullivan: Kalil “Willing To Put The Work In”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 11, 2012 – 8:18 am

Vikings C John Sullivan knows what it’s like to work hard to make it in the NFL. He entered the League as a 6th-round pick of the Vikings in 2008 and was a backup on the offensive line who also grinded away as a special teams player.

But through hard work and studying, Sullivan ascended to the top of the depth chart at center and snapped to future Hall of Famer Brett Favre in 2009. Sullivan is now one of the best centers in the NFL, and was rewarded as such last season when the Vikings signed him to a contract extension.

So when it comes to identifying players who are willing to work hard and who have the potential to be quality performers along the offensive line, Sullivan has a keen eye. Sullivan is also not one to spew meaningless hyperbole just to fill space or capture attention. That’s why what he said about Vikings 1st-round LT Matt Kalil last week on Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen’s 9-noon radio show is notable.

“He’s a guy that cares, he comes from a great football family, and he’s the fourth overall pick,” Sullivan said. “There’s a lot of pressure there, there is a lot of money involved as well. That’s a big investment for a team, and nobody with any pride wants to let people that have invested in them like that down. It’s the same way I felt when I got my new contract. It puts new pressure on you, added pressure on you to be there. But that’s alright, that’s why we play the game. We want to be successful, so you’ve got to be willing to put the work in. And he’s a guy that’s willing to put the work in.”

Sullivan has a pretty good body of work from which to judge because the team has completed 6 of their 10 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and has now advanced to the eighth week of their nine-week offseason program. While practices so far have been non-contact, Sullivan has been able to observe two important elements to offensive line play, especially at left tackle – movement skills and technique.

“All you have to do is go watch how he moves,” Sullivan explained. “He’s a freak, an absolute freak. I’m just talking about movement skills. He is so fast for how big he is. It’s unbelievable.

“I’m talking great technique. I’m talking cutting off a linebacker from the back side…He moves incredibly well. I can’t say he’s a road-grader yet because obviously we don’t have pads on, but I’d be shocked if he weren’t. He’s a monster.”

Again, it’s important to stress that we’re only in the offseason program. It’s not like Sullivan, or anyone else, has the benefit of NFL game tape to make a water-tight judgment on Kalil or any other player on the roster. After all, Kalil will be going against Jared Allen day-in and day-out once the team gets to training camp, which will make it tougher for Kalil to impress. But Sullivan is not one to shower someone with blanket praise when it’s not deserving, and, as a late-round pick who is now the leader of his position group, he’s also one who expects his teammates to earn respect rather than to be given it based on draft status.

That’s why Sullivan’s praise for Kalil to this point is such good news for the Vikings.


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50 Responses to “John Sullivan: Kalil “Willing To Put The Work In””

  1. By Frederick Jones on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    That is great. How about Schwartz?

  2. By Frederick Jones on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    There are five (FIVE!!!) offensive line positions. Two good guys isn’t enough. The depth at wide receiver is obvious. But the offensive line will need a lot of work to even be an average NFL unit. Adding one guy (Kalil) don’t not never ever git er’ done!

    We also have quite a number of defensive backs, so I’m less worried about that unit. Kicker might turn out to be scary. But the number one concern on the Vikings is OFFENSIVE LINE!

    No one can say it’s not the number one concern, and sound like they have an IQ of higher than 80!!!

  3. By Frederick Jones on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    *No one can say that the OFFENSIVE LINE is not the number one concern of the MN Vikings, and sound like they have an IQ of higher than 80!!!

  4. By Adam on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    I would be surprised if Frederick Jones had an IQ of higher than 80 after attempting to read his post.

  5. By RichardA1 on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Every article, blog should be on the Vikings secondary, it has sucked for a very long long time, what’s getting done? even when we have the number one defense, we have a bad secondary, we need coverage on defensive backs. Who cares about i.q. this is’nt a mensa meeting it’s football, you might be required to spell football someday but being able to play football is more important! “The Purple Dragon Head”

  6. By RichardA1 on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    We should hire a retired coach to check, encourage our coachs, someone like Jon Gruden. Loosing a whole season because a coach is bad or find out the players don’t like him is costly, waste of a whole season.

  7. By Troutdaddy on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Kalil is going to be an absolute beast! I Can’t wait to see him man-handle the opposing D-lines. I disagree RichardA1- Having an O-line that is intelligent means they are able to read and adjust. That mental capacity is vital and those who don’t have it lack a little thing called “Timing”. Although I like your thoughts about Gruden. He could add some spark to our coaching possibly. It sounds like our secondary is in a much better place than it was last year according to the OTA’s and people’s insights. that is promising. Like many, I am wanting to see this for myself. This is a huge deal. If we don;t fix this, then even if Kalil is a beast and can give Ponder more time to throw, the elite receivers out there will continue to have a field day on our secondary. If we can nail this area down, then we are going to be whooping it up…. Can’t wait to see the improvements….(Fingers crossed!)

  8. By Troutdaddy on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Oh, and by the way- I checked out the “Other” blog site that some of you have talked about as being the freedom of speech, uncensored and “more postable” site- maybe so, but it was also more crude. Sorry, but I do not appreciate or respect innapropriate language or crudeness when readng about the Vikes. Especially for the youth that are looking for info on their favorite teams. Would hate to lose some of the loyal bloggers here but if that is what floats your boat…

  9. By smokinjo65 on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    My main concern is also for the Offensive Line, they can’t be any worst then the last couple years really. Give Ponder more time to look and throw he will make average receivers look good. I am not to worried about DB’s because even as bad as they were last year the majority of the games we lost we only by 7 points or less. We will do much better then last season I believe, I’m hoping for 8-8 and that’s realistic is the OL gives ponder and the RB’s time and holes.

  10. By purpleman527 on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    I sure hope Kalil is willing to work hard. But any and every player should be willing to work hard. I doubt there will ever be a pre-camp story written like, “Kalil is not willing to work hard.”

    Just sayin.

  11. By NorthwoodsVikesFan on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Hopefully Kalil’s performance will rub off on the other end of the O-Line. Haven’t heard a word published about HIM. Wobs?

  12. By NorthwoodsVikesFan on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Given how horrible he was at stopping the outside rush last year (I forget which ESPN analyst it was this weekend who said “Loadholt had more “Ole’s” than a bullfighter last season”), one would believe the coaches would be working him hard. But the lack of reporting on Loadholt suggests he is not impressing anyone.

  13. By Mike B. on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    I will agree with NorthwoodsVikiesFan. There was a big concern about Loadholts ability to play RT. I think that there should be coverage on how he is doing in OTAs. Good point there are two sides of this line.

  14. By Mike B. on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Another point to report on is that the line is gelling as a unit. Fred is right there are 5 positions on the line and they must play in a coordinated effort. How’s that working. If Ponder is to have success the O-Line needs to be very much improved much more than one position.

  15. By Doogie on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    McGinist said the ole’s on espn. Boy was he right.

  16. By NorthwoodsVikesFan on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Seems like many people have that impression – here’s another quote from Ryan Boser at BleacherReport:

    “At 6’8″ and 343 lbs, his mountainous stature is a double-edged sword—he’s a brute force in the run game, but against opposing speed rushers, he’s the world’s biggest matador. ”

    I really hope he can improve that aspect of his game – he could be the immovable object and irresistable force combined in one.

  17. By New Vike on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Why hasnt there been talk of moving Loadholt to guard? He wouldnt have to worry so much about the speed rushers and he can impose his will(size) in the run game more effectively.

  18. By Rogerthevikefan on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    The big question for the OLine is Loadholt will he continue to be a revolving door of QB pressures and Loadsofholds. Play Love at RT.

  19. By Immure on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    IMO the only O-linemen that should have a guaranteed starting job should be Kahlil. But since they gave Sully the new contract he’ll be a starter. I would like to see an open competition for L/R G and RT. Johnson and Loadholt both need to step up their game this year. It may take some time for this group to come together as a cohesive unit.

  20. By Rogerthevikefan on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    You would think that a RT would possible be able to prevent a p@ss rusher from killing the QB on occassion.

  21. By Mike B. on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    lol the world biggest matador now that’s funny stuff

  22. By Rogerthevikefan on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    I would rather have Fusco at LG then Johnson. DeGeare and Schwartz are the prototypical RG size. It would be a pretty good battle between them.

  23. By zuehlke on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    i believe loadholt will improve this year hes in his 3rd yr and thats usually when players peak remember the lock out last yr had significant effects on team comrodery and discipline we will have top ten offensive line and that sufficiant enough for toby and ap and ponders protection kalil and sullivan cant say enough abiut these guys and there leadership really stepin it up and thats what teams need leadership comrodery discipline we have what it takes GOOO!! VIKES!!!

  24. By Frederick Jones on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    I’m getting tired of people blaming 3-13 on the lockout. The other 31 teams also had the lockout.

  25. By Frederick Jones on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    It will be nice if the old tired players from last year’s team can get better, but what if they don’t? How have we improved the Offensive Line other than getting Kalil?

    I am not buying the switching of tackles to guard. This is the first year I have ever heard of that making a difference. Blocking is blocking, and it has to occur inside and outside.

  26. By Frederick Jones on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Adam and Richard,

    Thank you…you proved my point!

  27. By RichardA1 on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    A year ago thinking the Vikes would be 3-13 I would of said “no way” now I am saying, 13-3 “no way” can it happen? yep, just like the 3-13 happened. Skol ye with the Dragon headed Ships!

  28. By iaVIKE on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Fred – I agree, there has been way too many Monday morning mailbag questions about our WR’s. I think it’s a position that’s looking pretty solid as of now. It will be interesting to see what happens with the right side of our O-line!

  29. By Immure on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Trust me Fred there is still some of us that have a lot of concerns about the O-line. Like I said there should be only one person who has a guaranteed starting job and that being Kahlil. But unfortunately the coaching staff will probably give the the other starting jobs to the vets on the team w/o them actually earning them.

  30. By iaVIKE on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    As much as Fred doesn’t like it, Sully is 100% guaranteed to start at center.

  31. By Jordan Adams on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Kalil, Johnson, Sullivan, Schwartz, Loadholt

    That’s a good o-line. Loadholt has this season to prove he is a starter in the NFL or else good bye. The other 4 should do fine this year. Next year’s draft should go towards a top notch Linebacker, a solid safety, D-line depth, o-line depth, rb depth, and wr depth (Simpson, Harvin, Childs, and Wright will make it in this league). Walsh is a great Kicker but if he can’t fix his accuracy draft a new kicker. We have a solid team.

  32. By Stoney on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    I don’t understand the Sully bashing, he’s a solid center. Fred, lockout plus new H.C., new O.C., new QB (who was bad), rookie QB, no L.T., no talent at W.R. beside Harvin. Add that up and it could equal 3-13.

  33. By Immure on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    I guess with how poor the whole o-line preformed last year its hard to say that one player did better than the other one. We have yet to see how this revamped o-line preforms so right now its just speculation. We still have alot time left before preseason and hopefully it all comes together by then.

  34. By dan on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Like to hear that the O-line is looking better from what I am hearing Kalil is going to be a monster for us for 12 years the future is bright with the new stadium and Pinder, smith kalil.
    , robinson, gerhart and the Wr’s Harvin and the two picks from Arkansas. don’t know if AP will be same hopefully he will make a complete comeback either way I like what we are doing.

  35. By Oscar on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Frederick-
    I think the Vikings’ secondary is in worse shape than the O-line.
    Chris Cook is returning, but I am not sure I would call him an above average CB at this point. Add in the fact that we could have 3 rookies DBs starting, and wow, we could be very raw against a pass happy NFC North division.

    Yes, I am much more comfortable with the O-line than our secondary.
    My IQ is 168. That means I am one smart dude.

  36. By david doty on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Kalil was a great selection for the team. I see our team doing better than last year we have made some great selections in the draft and in free agency. I believe our general manager did a great job in both areas. He select some great players and it will be hard this season to reduce the player staff. I cannot think of someone we need to cut. And I will feel bad when they do cut people when the season starts. Let some one tell me who they think should be cut.. I am very proud of the players we have on the team this moment.

  37. By Stoney on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Oscar. I think we could start 3 high school players at DB and improve over last season. I also think the O-Line will be improved. The Vikes will be better than most experts think.

  38. By thenaj17 on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    By Frederick Jones on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    I’m getting tired of people blaming 3-13 on the lockout. The other 31 teams also had the lockout.

    Not all teams had a 1st (full) year coach, and 2 new QB’s who didn’t know the system though. All the co-ordinators were different aswell. That doesn’t excuse 3-13 but it certainly made a difference.

  39. By Oscar on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    Stoney-
    I think you are right.

    I like Josh Robinson, and if Cook can stay healthy and play the way he is capable,.. hopefully the Vikes won’t get beat up too badly in the secondary.

  40. By NorthwoodsVikesFan on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    I wouldn’t give Loadholt the entire season to succeed/fail. If he starts off the season using his patented Turnstyle technique I’d cut him off at 3 games and make a change.

    Frederick – the way I see it is the guard position wouldn’t have to deal with an outside speed rusher. Loadholt is a beast, and can match up face to face with anyone in the league. He has decent straight-line speed for pulling to block, but just hasn’t been able to handle the outside rush. Moving him to guard would play to his strengths. He may have been a great RT in college, but at the NFL level he’s not protecting the QB.

  41. By dakotakid59 on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    Theres no were to but up.Last place schedule,having OTAs,being more fimilure with the coaches should help us become a much improved team. Someone here said 13-3,would be nice but no way dude. 7-9 prehaps. With all of the youth inserted it will take us a few years to get to 13-3.

  42. By iaVIKE on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    Northwoods – I agree Loadholt would be a monster of a guard, I think the reason the Vikes coaching staff won’t do that is because of Ponders height. But not too many QB’s can see/throw over a 6’8 mountain like Loadholt at guard…

  43. By RichardA1 on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    I’m afraid more than my imagination wants to believe! afraid for the offenses that face our “D”, we are going to be good, might take a play or two to gel, but after that, were going to have trouble getting a team on the same field as us, It’s o’k, it’s o’k……..

  44. By Frederick Jones on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    @NorthwoodsVikeFan,

    Thank you for responding to my post.

    The guard must also handle the “speedrusher,” because they do stunts on a regular basis to try to get pressure on the QB. In addition some of those DTs are pretty darn quick.

    The Vikings need 5 Offensive Linemen who can perform all the blocks. It does not matter that much whether you are a guard or a tackle, both must be quick and strong.

  45. By Frederick Jones on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    Oscar, Oscar, Oscar,

    How did you show that the Vikings Offensive Line is better than last year?

  46. By Frederick Jones on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    iaVike,

    SO WHAT!!! Sullivan also started on the 3-13 Vikings last year. What is your point?

  47. By Frederick Jones on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    Immure’s comment about the returning vets getting most of the starting jobs w/o any consideration of the other players may very well turn out true.

  48. By iaVIKE on Jun 12, 2012 | Reply

    It was in response to Immure’s post, Fred. Sully is the 100% guaranteed starter. The Vikings are very high on him, whether you are or not. I wasn’t arguing with anything you said

  49. By Spencer on Jun 15, 2012 | Reply

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