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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zimmer says Vikings will explore their options to shore up banged-up O-line

By Derek Wetmore

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – One of the hardest-dying clichés in sports is the myth about the injury bug, a false pattern that makes it seem to us humans that some teams just have those years in which a bunch of players go down all at once and drag down the season right along with them.

A cynic might say, ‘Hey, the injury bug is a construct of our imagination. Some players get hurt, it’s hard to predict. It happens all the time.’

And then we might point you to the Vikings’ 2016 offensive line.

And those cynics might say, ‘Right, carry on then.’

On the second-to-last offensive play of Sunday’s game for the Vikings, left tackle Jake Long hurt his left Achilles and with that his season is finished.

Long himself had been a longshot replacement for the struggling offensive line, which has been decimated this year.

Right tackle Phil Loadholt retired before training camp reportedly because of an injury.

So Andre Smith became the starting right tackle. He got hurt and is on IR.

Left tackle Matt Kalil had hip surgery in September, is on IR, and is a long shot to return before this season ends.

Left tackle Matt Kalil off crutches, but remains unlikley to return this year

Add in to that the fact that guard Mike Harris is on the Non-Football Illness list and the Vikings have five potential starters sidelined or retired right now.

“Every year it seems like, wherever you are, it seems like one position gets hit and that team seems to get hit the most. … It’s been a lot of guys but I’m sure we’re not the only team in the NFL to have one position hit,” head coach Mike Zimmer said Monday after his team dropped its fourth game in a row.

Zimmer said that the team will explore its options with regard to fortifying the line. This late into the season with the trading deadline come and gone, it’s hard to expect a significant transaction.

That could include kicking left guard Alex Boone out to left tackle and finding a replacement at his vacated guard position. Zimmer didn’t dismiss that as a possibilty but he said that he hasn’t talked with Boone about that yet.

And while the offensive line has been a repeated explanation by fans of the team for why Minnesota has struggled lately, Zimmer said that he thought the unit was good in pass protection Sunday in Washington.

“Actually, honestly I thought the offensive line protected the quarterback pretty well yesterday for the most part,” Zimmer said. “He had a clean pocket most times. The quarterback played outstanding, in my opinion. He made a lot of great throws. But we struggled on 3rd-and-1.”

Zimmer said that in short yardage situations, the Vikings have struggled lately. He said over the past four games, the Vikings offense has faced 13 situations in which they had a yard to go on either third down or fourth down. They’ve converted five of those, he said. In the same situations defensively, the Vikings are 0-for-4 the past four weeks, he said, “so consequently we have not been able to get off the field defensively in those situations and offensively we haven’t been able to sustain drives.”

“So that’s going to be more of a big emphasis this week is to try to figure this out and get back to being a lot more successful,” he said. “We should be more successful there. We got knocked back a few times, there were a couple times we probably should have made it – but anyway, we haven’t gotten it. … That’s a lot of possessions that you give up throughout [those] games.”

The post Zimmer says Vikings will explore their options to shore up banged-up O-line appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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