Dru Samia Set to Make First Career Start at Right Guard Against Colts
When news came out that Pat Elflein had hurt his thumb and was placed on injured reserve, the focus immediately turned to the question of who his replacement would be at right guard. Dru Samia seemed like the logical favorite, having competed there in training camp, but there were plenty of other possibilities: Aviante Collins, Ezra Cleveland, even backup center Brett Jones.
One day later, it has been confirmed that Samia is the guy. He's been inserted into the starting lineup in practice and will get the opportunity over the next three-plus games to show what he can do. Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reported Friday morning that Elflein tore a ligament in his thumb during practice on Wednesday, and that Samia will take over his starting role for the time being.
Samia, a 2019 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, essentially took a redshirt year as a rookie. He didn't play until the second half of the meaningless Week 17 game against the Bears, but showed some signs of upside during those 31 snaps.
Check out some of Samia's highlights from his NFL debut below. He's at right guard, wearing No. 73, in each clip.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Friday that he's seen a lot of improvement from Samia from last year to this year.
“He’s obviously much better with his technique," Zimmer said. "But he was a little bit of a bull in a china shop – everything was full speed and trying to knock the guy around, and now it’s understanding a little bit more of the finesse and the footwork and things like that.”
This is a big opportunity for Samia, who has the movement ability and power to succeed if he can put everything together from a technique standpoint. Samia is known for being a highly competitive guy with plenty of the nastiness you want in an offensive lineman.
If he impresses this week and beyond, it's entirely possible that he could continue to hold down the right guard spot even once Elflein is healthy.
For more on Samia, check out this in-depth player preview I wrote back in July.
The Vikings signed veteran center/guard Brett Jones from the practice squad to the active roster to take Elflein's spot.
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