Rick Dennison, the Minnesota Vikings assistant who has declined to be vaccinated for COVID-19, will remain with the team as a senior offensive advisor.
The Vikings announced the arrangement as training camp opened on Tuesday, replacing the former offensive line coach with Phil Rauscher and naming Ben Steele as an assistant offensive line coach.
“Rick is a football coach and he’s got 40 years of experience doing what he’s doing,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters Tuesday. “I felt like it was important that we use him as a resource, but we also give him the opportunity to continue to work. With the way the protocols are, he can’t be around the players in person. But he has so much knowledge and so much experience that I felt like he could be a big help.”
Multiple outlets reported last week that Dennison had left the Vikings due to his vaccine refusal.
Dennison, 63, was Minnesota’s offensive line coach/run game coordinator for the past two seasons.
The NFL requires that all Tier 1 staff, which includes coaches, scouts, equipment managers and team executives, to be fully vaccinated. Players do not have the same rule but will be under restrictive COVID-19 protocols if they are unvaccinated.
Dennison played nine seasons at linebacker for the Broncos before beginning his coaching career in 1995 as a Denver offensive analyst. He served as offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills and Broncos, and designed the offense that Peyton Manning led to a victory in Super Bowl 50.
Rauscher joined the Vikings as an assistant offensive line coach in 2020 after working with the Washington Football Team (2018-19) and the Broncos (2015-17).
Steele, 43, was the tight ends coach for the Atlanta Falcons last season, a position he also held with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2017-18.
–Field Level Media