Sullivan leading Vikings' offensive line

Posted Nov. 18, 2011 @ 4:08 a.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

There are not too many pretty aspects about the Vikings' offense, even with the force of RB Adrian Peterson and the promise of QB Christian Ponder. But we can throw in — to a degree — the play of the offensive line, which has improved in some aspects. Leading that charge is C John Sullivan, who is having his best season to date.

Earlier in his career, Sullivan was pushed around because of a lack of base strength, and last season he was crushed by injuries, including ankle surgery, an appendectomy and two bad calves. But prior to this season, Sullivan used the lockout to heal up and also to add the base strength he lacked.

"When you are not winning games, nothing else really matters," Sullivan told PFW of his team's 2-7 start. "But from a personal standpoint, I feel like this is the healthiest I have been. I think getting older has helped my strength levels.

"I was really able to get healthy during the lockout, too. It was nice to get a break, especially after a hard year personally and a hard year going 6-10 (in 2010). So I just feel like I am playing my best football. But I need to do more to help us win."

Another factor in Sullivan's favor is the fact that the Vikings have taken more of a straightforward, physical approach to blocking this season under offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave over the more finesse-oriented, West Coast zone schemes of the previous regime. That suits Sullivan just fine, he says.

"Bill and (OL coach) Jeff Davidson, they are putting us in great positions where we can come off the line and be aggressive," Sullivan said. "They take a lot of the thinking out of the game. There are still adjustments and calls to be made, but when they really turn you loose and you can focus on being physical, it's that much easier."

Helping mentor QB Christian Ponder has also been one of Sullivan's duties, and he said the rookie has handled the adjustment to pro life — and starting in the NFL — quite well.

"He's a great leader in the huddle, which is pretty surprising considering he is so young," Sullivan said. "But he's doing a great job. He has really embraced that role that successful quarterbacks embrace, and that's being a leader, being accountable.

"The wins will come. I think right now the most important thing is going out each week, getting the big picture, trying to win individual games and become a better team by the end of the season than we are right now."