Vikings name new O-line coach due to protocols

The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday that Phil Rauscher will replace Rick Dennison as the team’s offensive line coach this season.

Dennison, who isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19, will remain with the team as a senior offensive advisor.

In addition, Ben Steele has been added by the team as assistant offensive line coach.

ESPN had reported last Friday that Dennison was out with the team because he wasn’t vaccinated but the Vikings later said they were in discussions with him on the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.

Dennison had served as the Vikings’ offensive line coach/run game coordinator the past two seasons.

The vaccine is required for all Tier 1 staff, including coaches, front-office executives, equipment managers and scouts. Players are not required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but will face strict protocols during training camp and throughout the season that vaccinated players will be able to forgo.

In a memo released by the league this summer, the NFL said any unvaccinated Tier 1 staff member must provide a valid religious or medical reason for not receiving the vaccine. Losing Tier 1 status prohibits coaches from being on the field and in meeting rooms and having direct interactions with players.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.

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