When Vikings coach Mike Zimmer described new offensive line coach Phil Rauscher at the start of training camp, one of the first words he used was “liberal”.
He was not exaggerating.
Rauscher has probably been the loudest man on the field at the TCO Performance Center in Egan, and Friday was no different. During different offensive line drills, Rauscher took out things like “Hit It,” “Drive,” “Eyes Up,” “Fire Up,” while occasionally throwing some salty language.
“Phil has a lot of energy, and he brings it. And as players we love it,” guard Dakota Dozier said after practice. “If you’re down even a little, his energy will get you ahead. going to carry. He doesn’t change. He brings it every single day.”
Rauscher, who was assistant offensive line coach in his first Vikings season of 2020, was promoted to his new job after offensive line coach and run game coordinator Rick Dennison refused to be vaccinated for the coronavirus and 27 July was transferred as senior offensive adviser. Rauscher took the field to start camp the next day.
“It’s been exciting,” Rauscher, 36, said on Friday. “It’s been an opportunity that I’ve been working for my whole life, and to have the chance to work with these great people, it’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been fun. I’m preparing for it I have great teachers and coaches in (Denison) and Bill Callahan and Gary Kubiak, and it’s living the dream in that sense.
Rauscher was promoted from assistant offensive line coach to offensive line coach for Washington’s final 11 games in 2019, when Callahan moved from offensive line coach to interim head coach. And Kubiak was Vikings offensive coordinator last year.
For its reputation for being boisterous, Rauscher ridiculed it.
“I think you guys heard a different guy,” he said. “I don’t know. That’s not me. When I was learning how to train the offensive line under Bill Callahan, we were loud. We were loud because we have to train 15 guys. Just because you Correcting a man, doesn’t mean he’s the only man getting reformed, and I think that feeds people energy.”
Rauscher said being promoted to coach of the offensive line last month was not a shock at all. He said last year was the plan for him if Dennison came down with COVID-19. And since the Vikings had been discussing coronavirus protocols with Dennison since April this year, the people in the building knew a move could be taken.
“I’ve been planning my whole life to be an offensive line coach in the NFL,” Rauscher said. “So it wasn’t a big leap or anything in that sense. So when he called me and told me what was going to happen, I got excited.
Nevertheless, it is a challenge. In March the Vikings started Riley Reef from left in a pay-related move, and there have been a lot of reshuffles on the line since spring practice began in May.
Rashod Hill is working with the first team in left tackle, and Zimmer indicated on Friday that he is a good bet to be there. Ezra Cleveland has moved from right guard and will start from left guard. And Dozier, who started at left guard last season, and Ollie Udoh, who had a tackle last year, are battling to start on right guard, with Zimmer indicating that it may be Udoh’s job to lose. Is. The only starting lineman in the same spot as last season would be center Garrett Bradbury and tackle Brian O’Neill in the right way.
Rookie Christian Darissau was expected to challenge Hill for the starting job, but he struggled with back problems. Darrisaw lost time in spring practice and sat out the first week of training camp before returning to limited grounds on Wednesday.
“He’s one step forward and two steps back,” Zimmer said. “It’s hard to make ends meet when you’re not doing stuff there.”
Zimmer said Darrisaw’s injury “has been haunting all the time.” And he spoke to Hill, saying, “I feel great with Rashod”.
Zimmer even spoke to Udoh.
“I like Udoh Guard,” Zimmer said. “A guy with a big body. If he’s going to be the guard, we have to keep delegating him, so that he gets comfortable with everything that’s going on there.”
Zimmer said that Rauscher’s biggest challenge now is “finding the right backup, swingers on game day.”
In that quest, Rauscher is giving him all that he has. And all the linemen on the team can hear that he is.
“He’s loud,” O’Neill said. “He’s bringing in the juice. He’s bringing in the energy. We love it. He’s great.”