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Andre Smith, T.J. Clemmings still battling for Vikings' right tackle spot

Andre Smith was practicing as the Minnesota Vikings starting right tackle on Monday but he's still competing with T.J. Clemmings. Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings' starting right tackle job -- which has at times looked like it was headed toward Andre Smith -- might not be decided yet.

Coach Mike Zimmer said last week the Vikings still wanted to look at different combinations on their offensive line, and though Smith started on Friday night against his former team in Cincinnati, he's been alternating first-team snaps with T.J. Clemmings in the Vikings' two practices since then. Smith, who allowed Teddy Bridgewater to be pressured once on Friday night, was back with the first-team offense on Monday, but offensive coordinator Norv Turner said he didn't think the job was settled.

"I think both guys have had a lot good plays and both guys have had negative plays," Turner said. "We’re just trying to become as consistent as we can at that position."

The Vikings' competition at center is on hold at the moment, with Joe Berger replacing the injured Brandon Fusco at right guard, meaning the right tackle spot is the only one undetermined with the starting five at the moment. Clemmings started all 16 games at the position as a rookie following Phil Loadholt's torn Achilles, but his first season was a rocky one at times, and the Vikings often set extra protection on the right side of the line to help Clemmings.

They signed Smith to a one-year, $3.5 million deal in the offseason, and he started training camp as the first-string right tackle following Loadholt's retirement. With Mike Harris still on the non-football illness list and unsure of when he'll be able to play, it appears to be between Clemmings and Smith for the job.

"I think with Andre, you have a more experienced player, a guy who has seen a lot of things," Turner said. "He adjusts -- or should adjust -- quicker to different things the defense give you. With T.J., you still have a very young player, who thinks every day it’s something new can come up. He’s working hard, and he adjusts to it well, but there is still a lot for him to learn."

Here are some other notes and observations from Monday's practice:

  • The Vikings are still trying to figure out the safety spot next to Harrison Smith on defense, and they gave some work to Michael Griffin there on Monday. "We stuck Griffin over there at the free (safety spot) the other day," Zimmer said Sunday. "We're just looking at combinations."

  • Seventh-round pick Jayron Kearse, who's moved up to the second-team defense after an impressive string of practices and ended Friday's preseason game with an interception, made the play of the day when he knifed in front of MyCole Pruitt for a sideline interception of Joel Stave. The ensuing celebration, though, earned the rookie a rebuke from defensive end Everson Griffen, who told Kearse to "act like you've been there before."