N.F.L. Offenses Are Changing, So Some Offensive Linemen Are Shrinking

As a result of enhanced nutrition techniques, changing offensive styles and adjustments to football’s rules, Berger and his brethren of undersize linemen appear to be a growing demographic in the N.F.L. And they are generally happy to embrace their roles as the pygmy elephants of their sport, the baby grand pianos of the game: little, but not that little.

“We’re only small in this particular line of work,” said Chris Chester, a 303-pound guard for the Atlanta Falcons.

Calculating average weights for N.F.L. lines is tricky, because injuries are frequent and depth charts fluid. But by one recent compilation, the Falcons’ average weight of about 304 pounds is roughly 10 pounds lighter than the league median and 20 pounds lighter than Washington’s, the league’s heaviest group.

Extrapolating the efficacy of a lighter line can be murky, too — rating line play in general is difficult, since performances are not as easily quantified as they are at skill positions — but so far this season, several teams with slimmer lines are thriving on offense.


Vikings guard Joe Berger, left, a 12-year…

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