With 27 years of NFL coaching experience, Dennison was considered a vital piece in helping bridge the gap for the younger Kubiak, given his experience calling run plays and knowledge of the scheme the Vikings have used since the 2019 season. Dennison’s departure comes at a time of transition for the Vikings’ offense, which will be guided by first-year offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak. Kubiak, 34, was promoted to fill the role his father, Gary, held in Minnesota during the 2020 season. The Vikings were one of the league’s prominent running teams in 2020 behind Dalvin Cook, who became the first Minnesota player to rush for at least 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season. Cook was responsible for 30.5% of the Vikings’ scrimmage yards, the second-highest rate in the NFL behind Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (33.8), according to ESPN Stats & Information data.
Phil Rauscher has been promoted from assistant offensive line coach to fill Dennison’s position, sources told ESPN. The Vikings also hired Ben Steele, who had recently been hired by Auburn as a special teams analyst, to fill the position Rauscher had held since 2019. 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.
1 Related 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.
The Vikings will hold their first training camp practice Wednesday. Steele was on several NFL rosters as a tight end from 2001 to 2007, including in Houston under Gary Kubiak. He began working in the NFL in 2013 as an offensive quality control coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a position he held until 2016. Steele was later promoted to tight ends coach for the Buccaneers before moving to the Atlanta Falcons, where he was an offensive assistant in 2019 and tight ends coach in 2020. He was hired by Auburn earlier this year.
Rauscher is entering his seventh season as a coach in the NFL after joining the Vikings in 2020. He coached with Dennison on the Broncos staff during the 2015 and 2016 seasons and was Washington’s offensive line coach in 2019. Dennison, 63, worked with Gary Kubiak for more than three decades in Denver (1995-2009, 2015-16), Houston (2010-13) and Baltimore (2014). Before joining the Vikings in 2019, Dennison served as offensive line coach/run game coordinator for the New York Jets in 2018.
The News Highlights
- Rick Dennison left as assistant to the Minnesota Vikings after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, sources say
- Check the latest Health news updates and information about health.
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