It was four weeks ago when Vikings guard Pat Elflein was placed on injured reserve and backup Dru Samia was ushered into the starting role at right guard.
Fans rejoiced as Elflein had been the problem child of the Vikings offensive line for the past two seasons. “How could it be worse,” echoed across comment streams.
It’s gotten much, much worse.
Samia has been historically horrible however you want to break it down, ranking: 75th of 75 guards; 182nd of 182 offensive linemen; and finally, 763rd of 763 offensive players graded by Pro Football Focus. He’s allowed 14 pressures and three sacks in four games, both team-high marks. It’s become the consensus that Samia is the league’s worst lineman, a title The Viking Age donned on the second-year lineman.
Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said that he is sticking with Samia in his Thursday press conference, but an unforeseen injury to Samia may keep Kubiak from following through with that plan and forced the Vikings to go back to the drawing board.
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Samia Out at Practice
Samia landed on Thursday’s injury report with a wrist injury and received an MRI, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported, that forced him to miss practice despite no injury reported of his on Wednesday, potentially opening up a vacancy on the starting offensive line for a few candidates.
Rookie Ezra Cleveland has been waiting in the wings for a chance to start as the Vikings have been developing him at both the guard the tackle positions. Oli Udoh and practice squad lineman Brett Jones also could be tapped to replace Samia if he misses Sunday against the Falcons.
The Vikings have supported Samia through what Kubiak called his “growing pains” but are aware of his struggles. Coach Mike Zimmer spoke upon Samia’s rough start to the season saying Samia “was in a bad position most of the time.”
Samia has helped other teams produce highlight-reel worthy pass rushes throughout his four weeks and is on track to be the league’s worst starting offensive lineman in the past 15 years.
Despite the struggles, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a reason Samia was selected before Udoh or Jones to replace Elflein, who remains on injured reserve after receiving surgery for a torn thumb ligament. He was seen as the best-fit lineman and has shown he’s serviceable as a run-blocker and another replacement at the right guard spot may not bring more positive results.
4 Other Players Out at Thursday’s Practice
Four other players did not practice on Thursday in running back Dalvin Cook, cornerbacks Holton Hill and Kris Boyd and returner K.J. Osborn.
Cook is expected to not play against the Falcons this week as the Vikings hope to rest Cook, the NFL’s leading rusher after he suffered a groin strain against the Sehawks on Sunday.
Hill was out against the Seahawks with a foot injury that elevated Boyd to the fourth cornerback spot and first-in-line for playing time in nickel packages if rookies Cameron Dantzler, Jeff Gladney or veteran Mike Hughes needed rest. Boyd’s condition was downgraded this week as he’s had a lingering hamstring injury this season.
Osborn also missed the game in Seattle with a hamstring injury as Ameer Abdullah and Chad Beebe took on return duties.
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- Analyst Grills Vikings Lineman: ‘He’s About as Bad as You’ll See’Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.