For the many Viking fans (like me) clamoring for more offensive line depth, today's signing should help the team. But depending on who you talk to, exactly how much help varies.
On the first practice day of training camp--excuse me, 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp®--Minnesota has addressed one of their glaring needs in the eyes of most fans by signing free agent tackle Charlie Johnson. Johnson had spent his entire five-year career with the Colts, playing in 73 games and starting 54. For the past two seasons, Johnson has been the main man in charge of protecting Peyton Manning's blind side at left tackle. He also played a lot of left guard in 2008, starting 12 games there.
You might initially think, "He started at left tackle for the Colts, and Peyton Manning never gets sacked. Move over Bryant McKinnie!" Not so fast. As many analysts will tell you, sacking Peyton Manning is damn near impossible no matter who's playing O-line thanks to his quick release and decision making. While Manning was sacked only 16 times last year, Johnson was responsible for six of them.
Like all other free agent signings, Johnson has to wait until Thursday to practice with his new team in Mankato. I like this move even if Johnson doesn't crack the starting lineup right away. He can play both guard and tackle, and with Anthony Herrera coming off major surgery a player like Johnson is exactly what the Vikings needed. Hopefully this move will give Mt. McKinnie the kind of motivation he obviously needs to get back to his Pro Bowl form. At worst, the Vikings have depth where they sorely needed it. At best, our O-line may have just received a big boost.