EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- When the Minnesota Vikings began preparations for the 2015 season, they initially figured their major change on the offensive line would come on the left side, where Brandon Fusco was shifting from right guard to play next to Matt Kalil.
But like a virus, turnover has spread across the Vikings' line, where T.J. Clemmings is preparing to start at right tackle after a season-ending injury to Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan has now missed two weeks of practice with back spasms. At the moment, the Vikings are practicing with a left side that's been more immune to uncertainty than the rest of the group.
"We’re getting a lot of practice at it because we went through the entire season last year doing that," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said Tuesday. "The move of Brandon to left guard is a bonus for us. The left side, I think has played extremely well in the preseason. We just talked about the right side, I think they’re growing and learning. There’s going to be some hiccups along the way. I think we have a chance of developing into a real good offensive line."
The Vikings have maintained Sullivan's back spasms aren't a cause for long-term concern, and if he's back to practice once preparations begin next week for the regular season, the team will get back to work with possibly the most important cog in its offensive line intact. Joe Berger has filled in for Sullivan and would continue to do so if the 29-year-old's injury lingers into the season, but Sullivan's mobility, intelligence and rapport with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a major part of the Vikings' blocking scheme.
If Sullivan is back, though, Turner thinks the Vikings' offensive line will be fine. Clemmings has held up well at right tackle, and Turner said he's worked well with right guard Mike Harris. But it's also worth noting how few different looks the Vikings have seen from opposing defenses. Those are coming, and they'll provide a better test for how the Vikings' offensive line will hold up.
"There’s challenges ahead for us, because people start attacking you in terms of your scheme and they start attacking personnel," Turner said. "I don’t think we’ve seen that yet."