Floyd making improvement, big role expected

Sharrif Floyd was a rotational player behind Kevin Williams last year, but new head coach Mike Zimmer sees Floyd making progress during the offseason program this year.

Floyd making improvement, big role expected Mike Zimmer is still getting to know his players as the head coach of the Vikings and, for the most part, has tried to reserve judgment on them because, until they start playing in his system, it's somewhat unfair to draw conclusions.

What might not have worked in Leslie Frazier's Tampa-2 defense might be markedly different under Zimmer's system.

However, he has started discussing some of his young players and the difference he has seen in them. Two weeks it ago, it was discussing the improvement of Xavier Rhodes and how he has handled his expanding role in the Vikings defense.

On Wednesday, it was defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. When the Vikings drafted Floyd with the first of what turned out to be three first-round picks in 2013 (the other two being Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson), they already had a starter at his position – veteran DT Kevin Williams. With Williams gone, Floyd is expected to take on a much larger role in the Vikings defense.

Zimmer won't anoint Floyd as the guaranteed starting defensive tackle just yet, but much like he mentioned with Rhodes, he sees Floyd making steady improvement, grasping Zimmer's defensive concepts and improving on the things he has been asked to improve upon.

"It's hard for me to comment about last year very much because I wasn't here and I don't know what they were doing," Zimmer said Wednesday. "All I can really comment about what has happened this year and I've seen (Floyd) progress. He's another one of those guys – like I was talking about with Xavier – you talk to him about something in the meeting about ‘he's got to do this better, do that better,' and you see him working on it."

But, with that caveat out of the way, Zimmer praised Floyd's work ethic and his natural skill set. He's been showing the coaching staff something every day that he is convinced will help improve the team as he works his way into the starting lineup and begins to carve out his own niche after being a part-time player as a rookie under the old coaching regime.

"Sharrif's doing a great job," Zimmer said. "He's improved tremendously. He's using his hands well. He's a very dedicated kid. He's done a great job in the weight room as far as changing his body and his strength levels. He shows great quickness. We're very, very excited to have him. I look for him to have a good year."

While Zimmer won't officially name his starters until the end of training camp, it would appear that Floyd is well on his way to locking down one of the four available starting spots on the Vikings defensive line, which will be critical to the anticipated improvement of the Minnesota defense.

THURSDAY NOTES

  • Kevin Williams may not be completely out of the picture for the Vikings. He told Sirius XM Radio Tuesday that he has had "recent talks" with the Vikings, but he remains unsigned and willing to visit other teams. Last week, Williams met with Patriots officials, but left without a contract.

  • On Father's Day this Sunday, Chad and Jenni Greenway will host the 8th Annual Greenway's Gridiron Gallop, a 5K run/walk at Lake Nokomis. The event will raise funds for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board's youth athletic program. Registration and check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a kids fun run at 8:30 a.m. and the main 5K run starts at 9 a.m. Vikings expected to participate in the event include Audie Cole, Jeff Locke, Kyle Rudolph, Jerome Simpson and Harrison Smith, and Vikings alumni Stu Voigt and Rickey Young.

  • Jared Allen will be back in Minnesota today for a groundbreaking ceremony at 10:15 a.m. for Marine Corporal Colin Faust of Minnestrista, Minn. Jared Allen's Homes For Wounded Warriors non-profit foundation has raised money to help improve homes of wounded veterans returning from combat with special needs and modifications to their homes. The current build will be the first home built from the ground up. Allen may no longer be a member of the Vikings, but his commitment to wounded veterans in Minnesota is a testament to his resolve to help his fellow man – one of the admirable traits that will make Allen a missed member of the Vikings family.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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