Notebook: Chris DeGeare 'up for the challenge' of move to right tackle
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Chris DeGeare wasn't too surprised when coaches told him on Monday he'd start practicing at right tackle.
Jeff Davidson, the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line coach, told DeGeare in their first meeting he wanted to see him there as well as at guard.
"I guess he just wants to see what I can do over at tackle this week," DeGeare said after practice on Tuesday afternoon. "So, I'm up for the challenge."
The timing of the move makes some sense. DeGeare took all of his reps in training camp at right guard, where Anthony Herrera had started most of the past four seasons before blowing out his left knee in a game on Nov. 21.
Herrera returned to practice on Monday and began taking a portion of the first-team reps on Tuesday, along with veterans Scott Kooistra and Ryan Cook. And DeGeare has experience on the edge, having moved to left tackle as a senior at Wake Forest before the Vikings took him in the fifth round (161st overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft.
"Positional flexibility and positional competition," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said of the change. "We've got a real deep group there, and we're kind of excited about the way we go eight, nine, 10 deep and we really want to find the best combination."
Coach Leslie Frazier made clear on Monday that DeGeare remains in the mix at right guard, and DeGeare's improvement in six start late last season suggests he could handle the job.
There's also a possibility the Vikings are examining their options in case they eventually need to move starting right tackle Phil Loadholt to the left side -- a move coaches have indicated they're reluctant to make, in spite of Charlie Johnson's struggles in camp.
"At this level, I think I have a guard body type, but that doesn't say much," said DeGeare, who stands 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds. "Charlie Johnson isn't the tallest player (6-4, 305) either, but he's a great left tackle."
DeGeare came into camp looking thicker after spending the offseason training with bodybuilders in his native North Carolina and has been seen doing extra conditioning after several practices. Frazier said the second-year pro "graded OK" in Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee, and DeGeare admitted he needs to work on keeping his hands inside, particularly in pass protection.
Asked if working multiple positions hurts his development at guard, DeGeare said, "Definitely, but I'm just trying to be versatile enough. If you just play one set position, you can get pretty good at that one position. But if I can come and play guard and tackle and get pretty good at tackle, that only helps me out that much more."
The Vikings presumably want to sort out their starting line as soon as possible to give the group time to gel before the Sept. 11 opener at San Diego. Playing Herrera for even a series in Saturday's preseason game at Seattle could help expedite the evaluation process.
"The offensive line is a lot about cohesiveness and knowing where your help is in protection," Musgrave said. "A lot like playing basketball -- you want to force the guy to the baseline, 'I know he can't go to his left.' A lot of that has to do with offensive line play as well, so the more those guys can have time on task together, the more they'll compete at a high level collectively."
Matter of hands
Hoping to show he's a more complete back as he plays for a massive payday, halfback Adrian Peterson approached Musgrave before camp to say he wanted to be more involved as a receiver in the Vikings' new offense.
Peterson hasn't been a nonfactor in the passing game -- he has 119 catches for 1,170 yards in four NFL seasons. But his two drops during team (11-on-11) drills on Tuesday made at least five since the start of camp for Peterson, who nonetheless continues to hope Musgrave will give him more opportunities.
"It's definitely appealing," said Peterson, who dropped six of 47 passes (12.8%) thrown his way last season. "I look forward to it. I can't wait to get rolling."
The Vikings have ruled out tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) for Saturday's game, but he appears to be making progress, doing some light running on the side while teammates practiced.
"I tried to give Shiancoe a hard time telling him to remember that we did draft a guy (Kyle Rudolph) in the second round and he is not looking too bad," Musgrave said, smiling. "'Shianc' is coming back as fast as he can, and we are looking forward to getting him back. Hopefully, it will be next week. If not next week, I am sure he is working like crazy to get out here and get with his teammates."
Backup linebacker Kenny Onatolu (foot) also has been ruled out for Saturday but continues to ramp up his rehabilitation workouts.
Rookie linebacker Jonathan Gilmore was carted to the locker room after experiencing chest pains. But tests and an EKG came back normal, according to Gilmore's agent, Josh Arnold, and he should practice on Wednesday.
Tackle Thomas Welch (glute) returned to practice, and Herrera went through another practice without incident.
"So far, so good the first couple days he's been out here," Musgrave said of Herrera, who has declined to speak with reporters. "... It's definitely a process, though."
• Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford continue to split first-team reps at safety opposite Husain Abdullah. Johnson was burned deep on a perfectly executed flea-flicker from QB Donovan McNabb to WR Bernard Berrian.
• DC Fred Pagac indicated he's not concerned with his cornerback group, despite their struggles at Tennessee. "Obviously, health has been an issue for us in the past," Pagac said. "With Cedric (Griffin), Cookie (Chris Cook), Antoine (Winfield), Asher Allen, (Marcus) Sherels kid, the (Brandon) Burton kid that we just got -- we feel like that's a good, athletic position for us and we're expecting big things from them."