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Even as they wrapped up training camp Thursday, the Minnesota Vikings were still assessing their depth at left tackle, where starter Bryant McKinnie is facing possible NFL discipline for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
The NFL has not yet announced McKinnie's punishment, which should range from a fine to a four-game suspension. (Sirius NFL radio speculated this week it would be four games). Even if he misses only one contest, however, the Vikings will have to find a replacement at one of the game's most important positions.
Utility backup Artis Hicks would figure as the short-term answer, but in speaking about the issue Thursday, coach Brad Childress did not mention another name that has been floated about -- second-year player Chase Johnson. Instead, Childress noted the work of two undrafted rookies: Drew Radovich, who is sidelined by a shoulder injury, and former Stanford center Tim Mattran.
Heading into Saturday night's preseason game at Baltimore, Childress didn't pretend that the Vikings are particularly deep at the position.
"I feel like we've got some guys that we can move in and out of there," he said. "... It's rare that you're great at 1 and great at 1A. It's rare."
No matter how deep the Vikings are, losing their left tackle for four games would be a significant blow. Already this summer they have lost two key defensive reserves (linebacker Heath Farwell and defensive end Jayme Mitchell), while safety Madieu Williams likely will miss the first three games because of a neck injury.