For most of the offseason, new Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell made it pretty clear that four of the five spots on the offensive line were set, with only the right guard spot being up for grabs. After a couple of weeks of Training Camp, however, it appears that might not be the case any longer.
O'Connell says there's still a competition at center. Says Bradbury has been good in the run game but admits some struggles in pass protection. Says he believes he is strong enough but needs better technique consistently.— Mark Craig (@markcraignfl) August 6, 2022
According to Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (among others), O’Connell declared on Saturday that there is, in fact, a competition at center between incumbent Garrett Bradbury and others, notably free agent signees Chris Reed and Austin Schlottman.
On the other hand, Kevin Seifert points out that O’Connell isn’t “worried” about Bradbury but there is some room for him to improve.
O’Connell said he’s not worried about Bradbury but made clear there is progress that needs to be made. More to come later after practice once power is restored in the media room. Thunderstorms!!— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) August 6, 2022
The story about Bradbury thus far appears to be the same as it’s been for the first three years of his career in Minnesota. He’s very good as a run blocker, particularly when he can get out into space a little bit, but he gets thumped pretty badly in pass protection.
The Vikings declined to pick up Bradbury’s fifth-year option earlier this offseason, so Bradbury is essentially playing for his next contract, whether that’s with Minnesota or another team (with the latter appearing significantly more likely at this point). Reed has never played center in a regular season game and Schlottman has only made one start in his career at that spot, but apparently they’re both being used to push Bradbury. . .or, potentially, supplant him.
I don’t think this comes as any huge surprise or anything. Again, Bradbury has had his moments, but they’ve been too few and too far between. As the new regime doesn’t have any really strong ties to Bradbury, they’d likely put him on the bench if they thought there was another player that would be an improvement over what Bradbury can provide.
Sure, we still have quite a bit of camp and three preseason games to go here, but it doesn’t look promising for Garrett Bradbury’s prospects going forward at this point.