EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Head coach Mike Zimmer said something Tuesday that few, if any, Minnesota Vikings fans would disagree with: T.J. Clemmings is better suited to play guard than tackle.
“He’s a little bit of a work in progress,” Zimmer said Tuesday as the Vikings opened their three-day mandatory minicamp. “How’s the best way to say this? The best place for him is where it’s a little bit more condensed. T.J. is a great kid. He’s going to give you his best every day. He’s going to come out here and work. He doesn’t really care where he plays.”
Clemmings has been a target of much public scorn as the Vikings’ offensive line has struggled the past two seasons. As a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, he wasn’t expected to start immediately. But injuries to tackles Phil Loadholt in 2015 and Andre Smith and Matt Kalil in 2016 led to Clemmings starting 30 of 32 regular-season games and the team’s only playoff game in 2015.
To say the least, Clemmings struggled. He struggled on the right side in 2015. He was replaced by Smith, a free-agent pickup before the 2016 season. But Smith went down with an injury early in the season. And if that wasn’t enough, he was later forced to switch to left tackle when Kalil also went down for the season.
Clemmings switched back to right tackle briefly when Jake Long was signed off the street. But then Long also went down for the season.
The Vikings bolstered the tackle spot again this offseason. They signed free agents Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers to start at left and right tackle, respectively. Clemmings has lined up only at right guard with the backups during OTAs and the first day of minicamp. Tuesday, Clemmings lined up between rookie center Pat Elflein and right tackle Willie Beavers.
“Obviously, (Clemmings) would like to be comfortable somewhere,” Zimmer said. “I think (guard) might be a good spot for him. Obviously, if you’re not starting, you have to play more than one spot anyway. But this is something we wanted to look at this spring and see how it pans out.”
–Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, 10 months into his rehab from a gruesome left knee dislocation and ligament tears, is throwing the ball with authority and timing as he works off to the side during practice.
He’s also spending time before and after practice throwing to receivers. Second-year receiver Laquon Treadwell said Bridgewater looks as though he was never injured.
“Just the way he’s getting the ball out,” Treadwell said. “He’s getting the ball out fast before you’re even breaking. Probably a little bit too fast sometimes. That’s just his competitive nature.”
Bridgewater, who missed all of last season, is expected to start this season on physically unable to perform.
Meanwhile, starter Sam Bradford was able to practice at full capacity Tuesday. The Vikings caused a bit of concern publicly when they held Bradford out of an OTA practice last week because of “muscle tightness.”
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