<
>

Vikings part ways with strength and conditioning coach Evan Marcus

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will have a new strength and conditioning coach before the 2016 season.

The team has parted ways with strength and conditioning coach Evan Marcus, according to two league sources, after a run of pectoral injuries led to a number of significant players missing time over the past two seasons. Coach Mike Zimmer hired Marcus to replace former strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy, as the Vikings shifted from machines to a program centered around free weights and power lifting.

In August, Zimmer said the Vikings had researched ways to prevent further pectoral injuries, though he continued to support the overall direction of the training program, saying "I want our football team to have a certain type of mentality." But by that point, the Vikings had already seen five players -- offensive linemen Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt and Carter Bykowski, as well as cornerback Josh Robinson and defensive end Brian Robison -- suffer pectoral injuries, while running back Jerick McKinnon sustained a low back injury while lifting weights that required surgery. Center John Sullivan, who was placed on injured reserve with a lower back injury before the season, needed a second operation after he suffered a setback while lifting weights in October.

It remains to be seen what direction the Vikings will take with their strength program once players return in April -- assistant strength and conditioning coaches Jeff Hurd and Chaz Mahle are still listed on the team's website -- but the decision to let go of Marcus signals the Vikings are at least rethinking their approach after a troubling run of injuries.