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Open Competition At The Guard Spots?

Hannah Foslien

The Minnesota Vikings' offensive line, while a rapidly ascending group, still has some room for improvement. While center John Sullivan, left tackle Matt Kalil, and right tackle Phil Loadholt are highly respected by most, the guard spots have been a bit of an issue. Left guard Charlie Johnson made the switch from left tackle in 2012, but had his struggles at the guard spot during the season. On the right side, Brandon Fusco had issues as well.

To attempt to mitigate these issues, the Vikings drafted two guards (sixth-rounder Jeff Baca and seventh-rounder Travis Bond), signed another in free agency (former Indianapolis Colts starter Seth Olsen), and have DeMarcus Love returning from a pre-season injury, having never played a regular season down in the NFL.

According to the article from Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN, anyone that's writing Johnson and Fusco in as the starters at this point would be well-served to do it in pencil.

The leash may be shortening on starting guards Brandon Fusco and Charlie Johnson as the Minnesota Vikings work to solidify the weakest part of their offensive line.

Fusco and Johnson took reps with the first-team offense during Wednesday's organized team activities, but coach Leslie Frazier made it clear that both linemen will feel competition through training camp.

"Hopefully, between DeMarcus Love, Travis (Bond), Jeff (Baca) and Seth (Olsen), who we signed as well, we'll create some competition and really push the guys who are starters to improve," Frazier said. "And if for some reason (Fusco and Johnson) stumble, we have some other guys that can step up."

Love probably has some potential at the guard spot, but he spent the entire 2011 season on the 53-man roster (but was inactive for every game) and, as mentioned, had injury issues last year, going on injured reserve before the season.

With the direction the Vikings are moving in as far as youth, you'd have to think that Charlie Johnson is in a bit of trouble. He's one of the older players on the roster, and if the Vikings can replace him with someone younger with no noticeable drop off, they're going to do so.

There are going to be quite a few interesting battles in Training Camp in 2013 for our favorite football team. It looks like the battle for the guard spots needed to be added to, or move up on, that list.