EAGAN, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings don’t plan to dawdle when it comes to getting their offensive line in order.
Head coach Mike Zimmer said Friday morning he hopes to have a good idea about his offensive line by around late next week. And he might not be shy to make changes.
On Friday afternoon, in the first practice at training camp open to the media, Pat Elflein worked with the first team at right guard in the non-padded, full-squad workout. Elflein started last season at left guard after being the starting center in 2017 and 2018.
Alternating with the first team at left guard were Dakota Dozier and Aviante Collins. On the second team, rookie Ezra Cleveland worked at left guard and Dru Samia at right guard.
The rest of the first-team line consisted of holdovers Riley Reiff at left tackle, Garrett Bradbury at center and Brian O’Neill at right tackle. Right guard Josh Kline was the only starter from last season not to return.
“Some of the things we’re looking at right now we’re going to look at for a few days,’’ Zimmer said. “And then after a few days, we’re going to settle in and start getting going with where we’re at. … We’re going to try to make a quick decision with some of these offensive linemen, probably after three days in pads or something like that.’’
The Vikings next will have a non-padded workout on Sunday. The first day in pads will be Monday.
Shamar Stephen looks to be the leading candidate to start at nose tackle, although he did miss practice Friday due to an undisclosed reason.
Stephen last year was the starter at three-technique defensive tackle. The Vikings need a replacement for Linval Joseph at nose tackle, and Zimmer said Stephen could be the answer.
“Shamar has basically been a nose tackle most of his career,’’ Zimmer said of the seven-year veteran. “That will be a better position for him anyway.’’
On Friday, Jaleel Johnson and Armon Watts alternated at nose tackle and three-technique defensive tackle. Both could end up competing to start at three-technique.
The Vikings are also looking to replace both starting outside cornerbacks in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. Working with the first team were third-year men Mike Hughes and Holton Hill. Rookie Jeff Gladney did not practice, and had a sleeve on his right knee. He underwent surgery last spring for a torn meniscus.
Also, Jalyn Holmes practiced at defensive end. Holmes played that position at Ohio State but was a defensive tackle in his first two Minnesota seasons.
Zimmer didn’t have much to say about defensive end Everson Griffen signing with Dallas after 10 Vikings seasons. “I’m happy for him. I hope it works out,’’ said Zimmer, who declined to comment on Griffen having previously let it be known he wouldn’t return to Minnesota. … The Vikings had been scheduled to open the preseason against Houston on Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium before the coronavirus pandemic wiped out exhibition games. “It does present some problems in the fact that you don’t get some of the live contact, especially with some of the younger guys,’’ Zimmer said of the cancellation.