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It’s All About the Kids, the Community, and the Viking Way

I am a dad now, and like all dads, I look forward to Father’s Day. But I have a lot of time before I’m going to be taking my son to middle school. So, when I got the chance to go with some of the guys to visit Friendly Hills Middle School—well, it was the first time inside a middle school for me in quite a while.

I have to say—it was a lot of fun. I had a great time with the kids. It was fun to see their faces and fun to see how many of them are Vikings fans.

I’ve always thought it’s good to be a part of our community and meet some of the people cheering for you each week.  It certainly is a lot easier to answer the questions kids ask. They all seem to ask the same thing: “Will we go to the playoffs? Will we win the Super Bowl?” With the kids, I just throw the question back at them: Do you think we will? They always say yeah. The kids are confident which is good; it’s a good place to start. The community here has been great to me. I can tell that they are excited about their team; the community is all about the Vikings. There is a lot of support here. I felt that even before I visited. It’s a great fan base with a lot of history. I’m thrilled to be here.

Am I worried or concerned about the expectations they may have? Expectations are what they are; you can’t change them. All you can do is focus on the day-to-day.  Since everything is new, my focus is on getting to a place with the offense where the reads, the terminology, and plays are instinctual. I don’t want to have to think about them and getting there is going to take a lot of time. But every day is another step in the process.

It’s only been about six weeks, but I think my familiarity with the huddle and the locker room is getting there. It has a long way to go still, but that’s to be expected. It’s helped that the locker room and organization have welcomed me with open arms. That has made the transition easier; not just for me but for my wife and family.

That familiarity will, of course, lead to better play on the field. I can honestly say that so far, I just want to see continued improvement from through OTAs. Each play helps build confidence; it helps build a rapport with the receivers and tight ends. But it is not just with those guys. It’s getting on the same page with the centers with protection calls.

There is a lot of new chemistry that still has to be built. Every day that we are here, we take another step, and I’m excited to be a part of it. Right now, all we can do is focus on having a great practices. OTA’s have been great for me as a player. I’ve been able to continue to develop and learn all the things that have become the Viking Way of doing things.

I’m enjoying going out and competing against a very talented defense every day. It’s a lot of fun playing against them and a lot of fun playing alongside the guys I’m playing with. We’ll see what the leads to in the fall.