Rick Dennison Takes New Vikings Role After Reportedly Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 27, 2021

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 20:  Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison is seen on the sideline during regular season game action between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions on October 20, 2019 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday that Rick Dennison will remain on the team's coaching staff as a senior offensive advisor.

Dennison was removed from his role as Vikings offensive line coach and run game coordinator after deciding against getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The NFL requires all Tier 1 personnel to get the vaccine, and that includes assistant coaches.

In his new role, Dennison will work virtually rather than attending team practices, meetings and games.

Phil Rauscher, who was the assistant offensive line coach last season, has been promoted to offensive line coach, and Ben Steele was hired as the new assistant offensive line coach.

The 63-year-old Dennison is a longtime NFL assistant who played for the Denver Broncos as a linebacker from 1982 to 1990 before joining the team's coaching staff in 1995.

Dennison spent 17 seasons on the Broncos' coaching staff in various capacities from 1995 to 2009 and again from 2015 to 2016. He has also coached for the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

During his 17 years in Denver as a coach, Dennison won three Super Bowls, including one as offensive coordinator in 2016.

Dennison was Denver's offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008 and 2015 to 2016, and he was an OC in Houston from 2010 to 2013 and Buffalo in 2017.

The Montana native was Minnesota's offensive line coach and running game coordinator in both 2019 and 2020. Minnesota ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing yardage in 2019 and fifth in 2020.

Under Dennison's watch, running back Dalvin Cook enjoyed a career year in 2020, rushing for 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns en route to his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod.

While Dennison will still have a role on the coaching staff, it will be up to Rauscher to work directly with the offensive line on a day-to-day basis.

Key linemen Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Dakota Dozier and Brian O'Neill are all returning in 2021, but Rauscher will be tasked with integrating first-round pick Christian Darrisaw and third-round pick Wyatt Davis into the mix as well.