Minnesota Vikings: Zac Kerin

MINNEAPOLIS -- We'd talked earlier about the Vikings putting some pieces in place for their practice squad. That group is now almost complete.

The team officially announced the signings of running back Joe Banyard, wide receiver Kain Colter, tight end Chase Ford and tackle Mike Remmers to its practice squad, also announcing it had signed center Zac Kerin, wide receiver Donte Foster, cornerback Kendall James, defensive tackle Isame Faciane and defensive end Justin Trattou to the group. The Vikings' practice squad is at nine, and the final spot could be slotted for offensive lineman Austin Wentworth, whom the Vikings waived on Sunday; a league source said the team was hoping to add Wentworth to the practice squad if he made it through waivers. The Vikings also announced the release of linebacker Larry Dean, who had been a standout the last three seasons on special teams.

For now, though, the nine-man practice squad breaks down like this: one running back, two receivers, one tight end, two offensive linemen, two defensive linemen and one cornerback. All nine players went through training camp with the Vikings, and the team's decision to retain James means it still has control of all 10 players it selected in the May draft.

There could more roster moves coming in the next several days -- it wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings add another safety after releasing Chris Crocker and Kurt Coleman on Saturday -- but apart from some minor tinkering, the Vikings' 2014 squad appears to be mostly in place.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Between now and the Minnesota Vikings' first training camp practice July 25, we will break down each position group.

Today, we'll take a look at the offensive line.

Returning players: Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco. Phil Loadholt, Joe Berger, Jeff Baca, Mike Remmers, Kevin Murphy

Gone from last season: J'Marcus Webb

New this season: David Yankey (fifth-round pick from Stanford), Vladimir Ducasse (free agent from New York Jets), Antonio Richardson (undrafted free agent from Tennessee), Matt Hall (undrafted free agent from Belhaven), Pierce Burton (undrafted free agent from Mississippi), Austin Wentworth (undrafted free agent from Oklahoma State), Zac Kerin (undrafted free agent from Toledo)

Position coach: Jeff Davidson (fourth season)

Biggest issue: The Vikings' offensive line has been one of the most reliable units on the team for the past two seasons, but after a season when Kalil and Johnson struggled at times on the left side, the group will have to adapt to an offense with a different focus than the one the Vikings have used for the past several seasons. Run blocking has been the forte of this group, and while the line has been decent in pass protection, offensive coordinator Norv Turner's scheme, which will likely have the Vikings throwing more often and further downfield than they did under Bill Musgrave, will require linemen to hold their blocks longer and let plays develop. Kalil, in particular, needs to be better after a subpar follow-up to his Pro Bowl rookie season.

Player to watch: The Vikings were thrilled to see Yankey still available in the fifth round, and the rookie could push for a starting job before too long. He's a mean, physical guard who comes from a school that's produced a number of solid offensive linemen in recent years, and while he's been a left guard -- which might be the most vulnerable position on the Vikings' line -- Yankey has played both guard and tackle spots. His versatility and size (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) could make him a versatile backup, at the very least.

Medical report: Kalil had knee surgery after last season, and was limited to individual drills during the Vikings' organized team activities and minicamp. He's expected to be ready for the start of training camp, however.

Help wanted: The Vikings could look for backup help at tackle, and though they'll be helped by the fact Yankey and Ducasse can line up in a few different spots, it wouldn't be terribly surprising to see them add a veteran backup at some point, like they had in Webb last year.

Quotable: "A lot of the ways that we're doing protections have changed," Davidson said. "There's a lot of nuances that have taken on different responsibilities for everybody within the line. The communication part is very important. That's what we spent an inordinate amount of time on, during the OTAs especially. The run game, there are some changes. I would call them minor tweaks, as compared to what we've done in the pass. Protection-wise is where we've made a substantial change. Some of the adjustments we're making with the protections, that's taken a lot of time."
MINNEAPOLIS -- Of the 16 undrafted free agents the Minnesota Vikings signed last month, they reserved the biggest signing bonus for the most prominent name on the list.

Wide receiver Kain Colter, whose efforts to help college players unionize while he was the quarterback at Northwestern, got an $8,000 bonus from the Vikings after signing with the team in May, according to ESPN Stats and Information. That is the largest bonus the Vikings paid to any undrafted free agent, and it matches the top bonus the team gave out last year, to Southern Methodist fullback Zach Line.

Eight other Vikings undrafted free agents got bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, but Colter's was easily the largest. NFL teams had $80,362 to spend on signing bonuses for undrafted free agents this year, and they could spend as much or as little as they chose. The Vikings have spent just $26,000 of their budget this year, after doling out $64,500 last year. All undrafted free agents get three-year contracts with non-guaranteed base salaries of $420,000, $510,000 and $600,000 in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Former Iowa guard Conor Boffeli, who was released by the team on May 19, got the second-biggest bonus during his short stay with the Vikings, at $4,000.

The receiver has had little interest in talking about his activism since he joined the Vikings, saying he wanted to concentrate on football now that he was in the NFL, and the bonus offers some indication the Vikings see potential in his ability to stick on the roster among their other undrafted free agents. Teddy Bridgewater connected with him on an impressive touchdown pass in a 7-on-7 drill during the team's open OTA last Thursday, and Colter could have some potential as a return man, as well.

Here is the full list of the Vikings' signing bonuses for the 16 undrafted free agents they signed, according to ESPN Stats and Information data:

WR Kain Colter: $8,000

G Conor Boffeli $4,000 (released)
DE Rakim Cox: $3,000
DE Tyler Scott: $2,500
TE AC Leonard: $2,500
G Austin Wentworth: $2,000
WR Erik Lora: $1,500
T Matt Hall: $1,500
WR Donte Foster: $1,000

QB Travis Partridge $1,000 (released)
RB Dominique Williams: $1,000
T Antonio Richardson: No bonus
C Zac Kerin: No bonus
T Pierce Burton: No bonus
DE Jake Snyder: No bonus
DT Isame Faciane: No bonus

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider