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Dienstag, 11. September 2018, 09:05


The Minnesota Vikings picked offensive tackle Brian O'Neill
from Pittsburgh in the second round of the NFL draft Friday
night Morgan Cox
, adding a mobile yet raw player to help with the critical task of
protecting prize offseason acquisition Kirk Cousins.

"I know if I can get the coaches this type of athlete, they can develop those
guys," said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who used the 62nd overall
selection on the 6-foot-6, 305-pound O'Neill before trading the team's
third-round pick, No. 94, to net an extra selection for Saturday.

O'Neill played left tackle for the Panthers as a junior in 2017 and was a
first team All-ACC honoree. He spent the previous two seasons at right tackle
after joining the program as a tight end. O'Neill ran the 40-yard dash in 4.82
seconds at the combine, the fastest time by an offensive lineman.

"You watch this guy get out and pull, and it's unbelievable how fast he
moves," Vikings director of college scouting Jamaal Stephenson said.

If the Vikings feel confident enough that O'Neill is ready to start, he could
take over at right tackle with Mike Remmers making a permanent move to one of
the guard spots. Remmers was signed last year as a tackle, but injuries prompted
him to shift inside late in the season and in the playoffs. O'Neill left college
a year early, though, so the Vikings have essentially taken on the task of
continuing to develop him.

"He's got to get stronger. That's one of his weaknesses at this point, but we
feel we can easily get that
corrected Trevor
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," Stephenson said.

If Remmers stays at tackle for now, Danny Isidora, a fifth-round draft pick
last year, will become a strong candidate to start at right guard in the retired
Joe Berger's place. Nick Easton started at left guard for most of last season
before breaking his ankle.

O'Neill was a high school basketball star in Wilmington, Delaware. His
father, Brendan O'Neill, played running back at Dartmouth. His mother, Elizabeth
O'Neill, was a swimmer at Northeastern.

"I think I'm able to handle speed off the edge very well," O'Neill said. "I
think that's something that's one of my strong suits, being able to protect the
edge. Obviously with the new quarterback in town, Kirk Cousins, that's a big
deal. Protecting him is my most important job now, and it's a job I take very

The run on interior linemen accelerated from the first day of the NFL draft,
with three guards going in the first five picks of the second round. The Browns
led off with Nevada guard Austin
Corbett Tre
Madden Jersey
, the Giants took UTEP guard Will Hernandez and the Colts
grabbed Auburn guard Braden Smith. The Bears went with Iowa center James
Daniels, who could play guard, with the seventh pick of the night, 39th overall.
Another guard was taken off the board when the Cowboys picked Texas guard Connor
Williams at No. 50 overall.

"I've never seen that many offensive guards go this high in the draft,"
Stephenson said.

The last time the Vikings took an offensive lineman in the first three rounds
in consecutive years was 2005 and 2006, when they took Marcus Johnson from
Mississippi and Ryan Cook from New Mexico in the second round of those drafts.
The Vikings drafted center Pat Elflein out of Ohio State in the third round last

Like cornerback, where the Vikings looked in the first round for Central
Florida's Mike Hughes , a team can never have enough quality offensive linemen.
The dearth of them has been their biggest downfall in recent seasons, a
deficiency badly exposed in the 38-7 loss at Philadelphia in the NFC
championship game.

Hughes found some off-the-field trouble as a freshman at North Carolina in
2015 with his home-state school, which led to a nomadic college career with a
stop at Garden City Community College in Kansas before landing at UCF once fall
camp had already begun. He quickly integrated himself with the team and picked
up the defense, making a strong impression on head coach Scott Frost.

"I think he's the type of player that's going to thrive up there," Frost said
on a conference call with Minnesota reporters. "Mike's not just a cover corner,
he's a guy that will come up and hit. He'll really embrace being around a bunch
of other guys that play with that kind of attitude."

He's only 5-foot-10, but this high school quarterback has used his physical
size as a psychological advantage.

"I don't want to get the ball caught on me," Hughes said. "I hate having the
ball caught on
me Brandon
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, even in practice. I just like competing."
Los Angeles
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was suspended for one game Thursday for an illegal
check to the head of Vegas Golden Knights forward William Carrier during Game 1
of the first-round playoff series.

”I thought it was a bad hit, but it’s not for me to decide,” Vegas coach
Gerard Gallant said after Vegas’ 1-0 victory Wednesday night. ”The referee
didn’t think it was a penalty but I’m sure people will look at that hit and make
a decision on it.”

Doughty will miss Game 2 on Friday night in Las Vegas. He delivered the blow
at 9:58 of the third period, sending Carrier to the locker room for the
remainder of the game.

”I thought you had two teams that played a real good hard, honest game,” Los
Angeles coach John Stevens said following his team’s practice on Thursday. ”That
was my interpretation. I think both teams upped their intensity and both teams
understand the importance of the battle on the puck and there’s usually some
kind of physical confrontation that comes from that.”

Golden Knights enforcer Ryan Reaves, who was a healthy scratch for Game 1,
didn’t agree with the hit.

”Obviously, it’s a hit to the head, it was pretty blatant,” Reaves said. ”I
don’t know if the ref maybe had a bad angle on it, but I’m sure the league will
deal with it the way they need to. You never need to hit a guy in the jaw. … If
I’m in that game I’d probably try and go do something about it. Maybe I can calm
that situation down.”

Vegas wing James Neal, who played with defending Western Conference champion
Nashville last season, said the Golden Knights knew things could get heated
against the Kings.

”When you play teams like L.A., a heavy
team Anthony
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, it’s going to be a physical game,” Neal said. ”We knew
what to expect, especially being Game 1 of the playoffs. Everything’s ramped up
a little bit extra, guys are out there going a little quicker, it was definitely

And while the Kings outhit Vegas, 68-59, Stevens scoffed at the notion Game 1
was an overly physical game.

”I think the teams played hard, I’m not sure where that number comes from,
but I don’t think anybody would be playing tomorrow if those numbers were
accurate,” Stevens said. ”I don’t want to sound disrespectful when I say this,
but sometimes I don’t even know where they’re situated when they are marking
those stats. There’s such a variety in the way those are gauged building to
building that we usually go and look at our own stats.”

Said Kings wing Dustin Brown: ”It was a physical game, (but) I don’t think
there was nearly as many hits as the stats credited. Some buildings you can kill
a guy and not get credit for a
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