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Vikings starting guard Nick Easton undergoes back surgery, will likely miss 2018 season

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The Vikings’ offensive line just took a big hit.

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NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are the king of the NFC North until any other team dethrones them. Based on the offseason they’ve had thus far, many are expecting the Vikings to repeat as division winners again this year. Their defense is still as intimidating as ever, they’re getting a healthy Dalvin Cook back and they’ve got a shiny new quarterback in Kirk Cousins that could take them to the next level.

But if there’s one thing that could topple their reign at the top of the division it’s their offensive line, and unfortunately for the Vikings, that unit just took a big hit this week.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, starting left guard Nick Easton underwent back surgery, and his 2018 season is likely over:

The injury is going to cause a pretty big shakeup on the Vikings’ offensive line. Here’s what our friends at The Daily Norseman’s think about it:

Mike Remmers played left guard in the Vikings’ regular season finale and both playoff games last year, but has been working exclusively at right guard this offseason and during camp (when he’s been healthy). There are going to be several in-house candidates to potentially replace him, such as Danny Isidora, Tom Compton, and Cornelius Edison. (Keep an eye on Aviante Collins, too, though he probably won’t be mentioned quite as frequently.) With Easton, Remmers, and Pat Elflein out early in camp, Compton and Isidora have been holding down the guard spots while Edison has been filling in at center.

Last year, the Vikings’ offensive line ranked just 22nd, according to Pro Football Focus. Easton was part of the problem, with a grade of just 57.5, but the Vikings depth chart isn’t much better. Danny Isidora is a 2017 fifth-round pick who started one game last year. Tom Compton is an NFL journeyman who started five games last year for the Bears and earned just a 57.7 grade from PFF. And Cornelius Edison has yet to play a singled offensive snap in his three-year NFL career.

It’s always unfortunate to hear about injuries this early in the season. We wish Easton a speedy recovery.