EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Barring an addition from outside the Minnesota Vikings' building, it appears the team will head into training camp without a firm hierarchy at one of their guard spots. The team continued to work rookie Tyrus Thompson at right guard on Wednesday, after looking at T.J. Clemmings in the same spot during organized team activities.
And if the Vikings are going to see which of their young players is the best fit for the spot, the evaluation period figures to stretch into training camp, when pads are on and contact can start.
"The challenge is getting the five best playing, and then getting them comfortable playing the position," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "We've used this work [in OTAs and minicamp] to try to get a feel for these guys, and the best feel you can get for them is athleticism, and how quickly they're learning and how quickly they adjust. The whole game changes when we go to camp and put pads on. It's a totally different deal."
The Vikings might end up choosing between a group of unproven players and 33-year-old Joe Berger, who has proved to be a capable substitute in the interior line spots. They also haven't seen much of Phil Loadholt this spring, as the right tackle continues to recover from a torn pectoral muscle. But the Vikings will have four veterans starting on their offensive line, and it's rare to find a NFL team without at least one question mark in the unit. In the end, Turner said he believes the Vikings will have enough options to form a good group.
"We're lucky in that we have real good depth in the defensive line, so we're able to evaluate these linemen against very good players," Turner said. "It's going to be very competitive, and I think we'll come out of it with a very good starting offensive line."