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Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison will remain with the team as a senior offensive adviser after agreeing to comply with the NFL's COVID-19 protocols.
Dennison, the 63-year-old veteran NFL assistant coach, needed take on a different role with the Vikings this season if he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19. NFL rules mandate that anyone with direct contact to players — executives, coaches, equipment managers — must be inoculated. Coaches who are not vaccinated can only meet with players virtually, and can't do any on-field coaching.
Assistant offensive line coach Phil Rauscher, who is in his second season with the team, is the new offensive line coach, the Vikings announced. The team also added Ben Steele as assistant offensive line coach. Steele, who as a player attended Vikings camp in 2003 and 2004, was most recently an offensive assistant with the Falcons.
After ESPN reported last week that Dennison was no longer on staff because of COVID-19 protocols, his agent, Peter Schaffer, said via text message last week: "Rick is 100% committed to and invested in being the best football coach he can be for the Vikings with the singular focus of winning the Super Bowl this year."
Dennison, 63, has been the team's line coach and run game coordinator for the past two seasons, joining Minnesota before the 2019 season with former assistant head coach Gary Kubiak. Well-versed in the Vikings' offensive philosophies, Dennison was expected to help first-year coordinator Klint Kubiak transition to the top job on offense. Dennison and Gary Kubiak played together with the Broncos from 1982-1990 and continued the partnership as coaches in Denver, Houston and Minnesota.