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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Rashod Hill reflects on journey from Jags’ practice squad to starting in the playoffs

By Matthew Coller

Following a career-ending injury to tackle Jake Long, the Minnesota Vikings were desperate for any kind of help along the offensive line. So they picked up Rashod Hill off the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad.

Jacksonville gave him the option of moving to the active roster with the Jaguars or going to Minnesota. While he didn’t own a winter coat, Hill decided he’d give it a shot, especially considering the Vikings’ desperate need for tackles at the time.

“A lot of people don’t know that if you’re not drafted as an offensive lineman, it’s hard to make the team,” Hill said. “It isn’t like corners, DBs, running backs. If you’re an offensive lineman, it’s hard because they already have their select few guys and through OTAs and rookie mini camp, if they see something, OK cool, but they only have a few. Minnesota keeps nine offensive linemen, Jacksonville only kept eight.”

Hill got his first opportunity to play in Week 17 last year against the Chicago Bears and made a lasting impression. GM Rick Spielman even gave him a shoutout in his press conference to open camp as evidence that the O-line depth was improved.

On Monday, Sid Hartman wanted to talk to the Vikings’ starting right tackle, who took over the starting job against the New Orleans Saints while Mike Remmers moved to left guard. Sid asked Hill whether he ever could have imagined himself starting in an NFC title game just one year after being on the Jags’ practice squad.

”No sir, I didn’t,” Hill said. “I thought eventually, but not right now. Second year in the league, came out of college undrafted, Jacksonville practice squad, Minnesota gave me this opportunity and I’m just trying to cease it. I never would have been starting right now. NFC Championship, I never would have thought in a million years.”

The former Souther Miss tackle matched up against Pro Football Focus’s No. 1 defensive end Cameron Jordan on Sunday. He allowed seven pressures on Case Keenum, but did enough to keep Jordan from dominating the game – which he had done the previous game against Cam Newton and the Panthers.

“That’s one of the best guys I’ve gone against,” Hill said. “My coach was telling me I did a good job, Cameron Jordan asked me what year I was. I said, ‘I’m in my second year.’ And he said, ‘Man, you’re a solid player.’ I said, ‘Man, you gave me a whole 60 minutes.’”

Hill is part of an offensive line that has been asked to routinely shuffle around with injuries. He’s played both left and right tackle, Remmers has played three spots and Joe Berger has started at right guard and center.

Hill said the close relationship of the Vikings’ offensive linemen

It does help having a close relationship with each other and trust in one another,” Hill said. “I know what he’s going to do, he knows what I can do. If I have Joe beside me, I know I have to take a bigger step, with Remmers beside me I have to come a little harder. You get a feel for each other for preparation before the game. If we made a bad play or there’s a missed assignment, we go talk about it like.”

“We feed off each other, nobody in our room has an ego,” Hill said. “We love talking mess to each other, we go out and eat as a unit, we hang out like a bunch of brothers.”

The Vikings’ starting right tackle won’t get any breaks this week. The Eagles have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, which includes pass rusher Brandon Graham.

“I don’t know if they have guys as big as [Jordan], but they’re fast, they’re quick and they’re smart, so it’s going to be a task but I’m ready for it,” Hill said.

While he never would have expected to be in the spotlight at this point in his career, Hill is adapted quickly to being a Minnesotan – despite the weather.

“My wife was telling me the other day, ‘it’s actually nice up here, it’s just cold,’” Hill said. “The people are nice up here. It’s a nice city up here. Some people in the South are rude. People in Minnesota are nice, they get along with people, they love football…it really is just cold. We love it here.”

The post Rashod Hill reflects on journey from Jags’ practice squad to starting in the playoffs appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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