Vikings address offensive line, sign ex-Colts tackle Charlie Johnson
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MANKATO, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings added depth, and perhaps more, along the offensive line on Monday morning.
The team announced it has signed free-agent tackle Charlie Johnson, who played in 74 games (54 starts) over the past five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. An NFL source said it's a three-year deal.
Johnson, 27, is smallish for tackle at 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds. Some scouts believe he was miscast on Peyton Manning's blindside in Indianapolis and probably is better-suited for the long term at guard, where the Vikings need help with Steve Hutchinson aging and Anthony Herrera coming off of knee reconstruction.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Johnson allowed six sacks, nine quarterback hits and 42 pressures in 15 games last season despite playing in front of a quarterback who takes fewer sacks than anyone in football. The Oklahoma State product has turned in a positive PFF grade only 13 times in his career, and five of those came during his 11-game stint at left guard in 2008.
The Vikings reportedly showed interest last week in Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod before he re-signed with New Orleans, and they signed another veteran, career backup Scott Kooistra, on Sunday. They have long-term needs at the position, too, with three starters -- Hutchinson (33), left tackle Bryant McKinnie (31) and Herrera (31) -- on the wrong side of age 30.
The roster now is full at 90 players, although Johnson will be among a group of about 15 who won't be eligible to practice until the 2011 league year begins on Thursday. The Vikings' first practice was scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday.