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Updated: August 27th, 2012 12:43pm
'Hesitation' holding back Vikings rookie Matt Kalil in protection

'Hesitation' holding back Vikings rookie Matt Kalil in protection

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Matt Kalil admits he made a few mistakes in the Minnesota Vikings' exhibition loss to San Diego on Friday.

But the rookie left tackle believes his issues are more mental than physical as he gets more comfortable with his responsibilities in Bill Musgrave's offense.

"My senior year of college, I knew the offense inside and out," Kalil said on Monday, "and so all you have to focus on is playing fast and playing with great technique, rather than focusing so much on the plays. I think it's a matter of me getting to the point where I'm comfortable enough with the offense where I can play a lot faster and more efficient."

Kalil's athleticism, feet and ability to cover up defenders with his nearly 6-foot-7 frame secured his place as the No. 4 overall pick out of Southern California in April.

But he has had some issues with outside speed rushes in 14 series of preseason action -- most notable, allowing Chargers linebacker Larry English to get the edge for a sack in the first quarter on Friday.

"I think it's a hesitation," Kalil said. "From what I saw on film when I got beat for that sack, it's not a matter of me just getting beat one-on-one. It's just a matter of me not kick-stepping fast enough or thinking too much. That's what I'm talking about as far as knowing the offense well enough to where I can block a lot easier and play more efficient and faster."

Also Friday, Kalil had a hand in a Toby Gerhart run for no gain, let linebacker Antwan Barnes set up another sack by caving the pocket inside and gave up another hit on Christian Ponder late in the first half.

"I played well. I made a few mistakes," Kalil said. "There's a lot of reading involved with what I do. So, it's just a matter of getting used to reading blitzes and at the same time defending the defensive end. So, it just takes time for me to be a lot more faster and more efficient with that and I think that'll help me with pass rushers in the future."

Musgrave praised the rookie's effort and said he improved along with the rest of the offense after two drives that netted 1 yard combined.

Asked if Kalil's mistakes were physical or mental, Musgrave said, "Probably both. Get a better result, better technique, better anticipation, which will come with experience."

He won't get anymore in a game until the Sept. 9 opener against Jacksonville. According to Kalil, he and the rest of the starting offense have been told they're not playing in Thursday's preseason finale at Houston.

"It takes time," Kalil said. "I think I obviously, since I first came in, I understand the offense a lot better. But that's what preseason's for. I think each game I've improved and played a lot faster. So, it's only a matter of time.

"I think I know the offense really well. But I think it just takes a certain amount of games and experience to actually play in those game-type atmospheres to kind of fully understand the offense and play at a fast level."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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