EAGAN, Minn. -- Dru Samia is finding out there’s a big difference between college and the NFL.
Being a Vikings rookie means running errands for veterans. On a recent day, the guard brought offensive linemen Chick-fil-A for breakfast and following practice toted several of their helmets off the field.
During practices, Samia has been learning he can’t always get away with what he did at Oklahoma.
“I’ve had some growing pains,’’ he said. “The NFL is not an easy job but I feel I’m starting to get the hang of things a little bit. Just technical things. I’ve always played with an edge but having an edge isn’t enough in the NFL, so I’ve got be able to get my technique down.’’
At Oklahoma, the 6-foot-5, 308-pound Samia often could overpower foes. That doesn’t always work in the NFL.
“I was just sacrificing technique for aggressiveness, and that’s what I’ve been working on,’’ Samia said of what has changed since he first arrived in Minnesota after being a fourth-round pick. “I’m obviously hyped and amped up to come in and compete, and I think that got the best of me sometimes. But now I’m starting to settle in and things are going well.’’
Samia is listed third at right guard on the depth chart but has been working at times with the second team. He got in for 27 snaps in the Aug. 9 preseason opener at New Orleans, and next will take the field in Sunday’s home preseason opener against Seattle.
“In his case, it’s better for a coach to say ‘slow down’ than ‘speed up,’’’ said Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly. “So it’s better that he came in more on the aggressive side than having to coach some aggression into him. He came in with a little bit too much of it but he’s been working on it every day.’’
The Vikings can afford to bring Samia along slowly. They got much-needed help at guard before the draft by signing free agents Josh Kline, in line to start on the right side, and Dakota Dozier, a veteran reserve.
In the first round of the draft, they took center Garrett Bradbury with the No. 18 pick. They then moved Pat Elflein, last year’s starting center, into the starting spot at left guard.
“Dru is a physical, tough guy,’’ said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. “He is obviously still learning the areas that he has to get better, but I think he has done a nice job in (training) camp. I think he’s got a good future, and I like his competitiveness and his toughness.’’
- According to the NFL Players Association, the Vikings gained $280,000 of salary-cap room after last Sunday’s trade for kicker-punter Kaare Vedvik and the subsequent release of long snapper Kevin McDermott. With the long snapper job going to rookie Austin Cutting, who has a cap number of $513,644, the Vikings have $4,424,845 million of cap room.
- Shamar Stephen, a 6-5, 309-pound defensive tackle, returned to the Vikings after playing for them from 2014-17 and spending last year with Seattle. “Shamar is a really good football player. … We always need two big guys in there, at least first and second down,” said Zimmer, whose starting nose tackle for 2019 remains 6-4, 329-pound Linval Joseph. “We have to have some big guys in there to control the running game.”