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Edwards Likes 'Unique Group' That is Vikings D-Line

Posted May 17, 2018

EAGAN, Minn. — There is no shortage of talent — or personalities — on the Vikings defensive line.

Everson Griffen is the vocal leader and a three-time Pro Bowler who has 43.5 sacks over the past four seasons. Linval Joseph is the main man in the middle with back-to-back Pro Bowl nods while Brian Robison is the respected longest-tenured Viking who is preparing for his 12th season.

Danielle Hunter is a rising star, and Sheldon Richardson is the newcomer looking to make an immediate impact in Minnesota. Add in a bevy of young talent such as Tashawn Bower, Jalyn Holmes, Jaleel Johnson and Stephen Weatherly, and the Vikings might have one of the deepest defensive lines of any team in the NFL.

It’s a group that Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards has embraced. Edwards recently chatted with Vikings.com about Minnesota’s defense and said he appreciates what that position group brings to the team each and every day. 

“I’ll tell you what, that’s a very unique group,” Edwards said. “That’s a credit to them, not only as football players but as men.

“The attitude and the precedence that they set to come in here and work as hard as they do every day, it pays off,” Edwards added.

Joseph and Richardson spoke last week about building a bond together on and off the field.

Edwards said he likes what he has seen so far from Richardson, the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year who has started 70 of 73 career games played in five seasons, including 15 with Seattle in 2017 when he had 44 tackles (27 solo), a sack, one pass defensed, two fumble recoveries and his first career interception.

“We’re excited to have him. He’s been here and has been very professional and is working his butt off,” Edwards said. “Just getting the gist of the terminology … that group has really been working hard and bought in and helped him adjust to what we do systematically and how we use him in different situations.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re excited where we are right now with him and look forward to keep making forward progress,” Edwards added.

The 2017 season was Edwards’ fourth in Minnesota under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings defense ranked first in points and yard allowed, and also had the league’s top third-down defense.

Edwards said this point in the offseason is crucial in building off previous success while also finding areas to improve in.

“I would have to say the big thing is the trust factor and accountability of our guys to each other,” Edwards said. “They really hold each other accountable and trust each other that they’re going to go out and do their jobs from week to week. I think that’s as big as anything we try to get accomplished.

“What we do at the end of each season is we go through and we look at the past season and identify things that maybe we weren’t as good at. Things where we want to help players get in the best position to have successes on Sunday when we go out,” Edwards later added. “We try a lot of different things and work in different things that we’ve identified that we want to get better as a defense, but Coach (Zimmer) does a great job with the team as a whole just talking about situational football. That’s such a big part of the culture and what we’ve built here. Then understanding the different situations, and from year-to-year there are so many different situations that come up in games and affect games, so we really try to place emphasis on those things in the offseason.”