It's time for Vikings to decide how new pieces fit on offensive line

The Vikings hope to protect QB Sam Bradford better than they did last season, but first they need to decide exactly how the offensive line will fit together. Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- At the top of the Minnesota Vikings' to-do list on offense this season is protect quarterback Sam Bradford better than they did last year.

The Vikings spent a good amount of capital this offseason to ensure their starting QB will stay upright more often. They signed starting tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers and traded up in the third round to select Ohio State standout center Pat Elflein.

Now the Vikings have to decide how the new pieces will fit together.

“I think it would be nice to kind of figure out who those five guys are going to be,” Bradford said Wednesday. “So I can work with them, so they can work with each other, and so the communication at the line can become better and become quicker.”

Elflein and Nick Easton, who started five games for the Vikings last season, have been splitting first-team reps in the middle throughout camp. Both Elflein and Easton have also mixed in at guard.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is putting emphasis on Friday’s preseason matchup with the Seattle Seahawks to help determine the O-line depth chart.

“Getting close, getting close,” Zimmer said. “I think this week will be a good tell-tale of some of the things we’re trying to do.”

The Vikings shifted last season’s starting center, Joe Berger, to right guard this offseason, but if the two younger interior linemen step up, there's a chance Easton and Elflein could end up starting instead of the veteran.

Zimmer plans to experiment in the team’s second preseason game before making a final call.

“It'll be a good competition,” he said. “We may have some guys in some different spots this week and see how it goes.”

Last season, the Vikings were forced to jumble the offensive line multiple times after losing both starting tackles to injury and losing each starting interior lineman for at least one game.

Bradford said shuffling the group up front during the preseason helps build familiarity in case the injury bug strikes again.

“The fact we are working some different guys in right now and they’re getting used to playing with everyone, I think that can be beneficial as well,” Bradford said. “So if something does happen, we do have to make a change or someone has got to slide over, it’s not the first time we’ve done that.”