DENVER — Former Vikings offensive lineman Mike Harris is returning this season to their sideline.
Harris was the NFL’s uniform inspector for road teams at the U.S. Bank Stadium the past three seasons. With former Vikings punter Greg Coleman having retired after last season from the role, Harris has been named the home team inspector for this season.
Taking over as the road team inspector is Ben Williams, a former University of Minnesota defensive tackle who played in the NFL from 1998-99, including getting into one Vikings game in 1998.
“It was getting a little lonely over there,’’ Harris said Saturday about having been the road team inspector. “I didn’t know anybody.”
Harris, 33, played in the NFL from 2012-15, including 2014-15 with the Vikings. He started all 16 games at right guard for Minnesota in 2015 before he was diagnosed in 2016 with a congenital brain condition that ended his career.
Harris also is in his first season as offensive line coach and assistant recruiting coordinator at Hamline. He made his debut as an inspector on U.S. Bank Stadium home sideline in the Vikings’ Aug. 20 preseason game against San Francisco and will be back at the stadium for their Sept. 11 regular-season opener against Green Bay.
Harris’ job is to make note of players who have NFL uniform violations. The players are warned, and if the problem is not corrected they could end up being fined.
While Harris has some former teammates still on the Vikings and knows many people in the organization, he said that will have no effect on his new job role.
“I just do the letter of the law,’’ Harris said. “The NFL office, they’re watching. They know what the infractions are when they see the film, as well. They know what needs to be done if I miss something. I’ll do things by the book. No favoritism.”
The Vikings closed their three-game preseason Saturday night against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field.
NWANGWU THINKING TEAM FIRST
If Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu is vying to win the NFL kickoff return average title this season, he’s being coy about it.
Nwangwu last season as a rookie averaged 32.2 yards on his 16 attempts. But since Nwangwu, who missed the first six games due to injury, didn’t have enough attempts, the kickoff average champion was Washington’s De’Andre Carter at 25.1 yards.
“My goal is just for our unit be the best in the (NFL),’’ Nwangwu said. “We’ve got a really good plan. We’ve got a really good scheme. And to be honest, I just don’t have any yards, touchdown goals. I just want to make sure that I put our team and my teammates in the best spot possible.’’
Nwangwu did lead the NFL with two kickoff returns for touchdown. In games in November, he had a 98-yard return at Baltimore and a 99-return at San Francisco.