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Timeout with Pat Elflein

Posted Oct 12, 2017

Pat Elflein hasn’t flinched while making the jump from the college ranks to the National Football League.

The Vikings center might be the youngest member of the offensive line at 23 years old, but he’s already made a big impact.

Minnesota has allowed nine sacks through five games, tied for ninth-fewest in the NFL. The unit has also boosted the Vikings rushing attack. After ranking last in the NFL with 1,206 rushing yards in 2016, Minnesota has 591 through five games this season.

The production from Elflein and the offensive line has helped the Vikings to a 3-2 record in advance of Sunday’s home game against the Green Bay Packers.

Elflein said his first season in the pros has been a wild and exciting ride so far.

“The first [five] games have been incredible,” Elflein said. “Every week is a new challenge. You have to really bring your ‘A’ game mentally and physically every single week.

“But not only on game day, but during the work week, to really prepare yourself for what you see on Sundays and Mondays,” Elflein said. “It’s a grind, but I love it. It’s the best job in the world.”

Elflein has been at the center, pun intended, of a revamped offensive line in Minnesota.

The Vikings brought in free agents Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in the offseason to play the tackle spots. They then moved Joe Berger and Nick Easton, two players who combined to start all 16 games at center in 2016, to the guard spots.

That created an opening at center for Elflein, whom the Vikings took in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. 

And even though his four other linemates have 199 combined starts between them, compared to just five for Elflein, the center said each player relies on one another to get the job done. 

“I still ask questions to the veterans and try to pick their brains because they’ve been through it,” Elflein said. “Every play, they’re looking at me for the call, so they’re relying on me, too.

“It kind of goes both ways,” Elflein added.

Although he’s still only a rookie, Elflein has been tasked with the great responsibility of being the team’s starting center, where he is routinely asked to call out protection changes and make sure all five linemen are on the same page.

Elflein said after a recent practice that it’s been an adjustment, but that he welcomes the pressure that comes with the role.

“I’m still a rookie, definitely,” Elflein said. “You have to step up at the center position because your teammates, those guys are counting on you to do your job.

“You have to take your job seriously,” Elflein added.

We caught up with Pat to talk about his what he expects in his first game against Green Bay, his love for chicken wings and his hobbies outside of football.

Q: How much do you know about the Vikings-Packers rivalry? What have teammates told you about it?

A: I know it’s one of the best rivalries in the sport. I know every time we play it’s going to be amped up and at a whole different level. We have to bring it.

Q: You played in one of the biggest collegiate rivalries involving Ohio State and Michigan, do you think that gives you a taste of what to expect in the NFL?

A: Yeah, just the general instinct of a rivalry game, I feel like I’ll be able to use that to my advantage. But it’s a whole ’nother level up here.

Q: I hear you have an obsession with Roosters, a chicken wing joint in Ohio…

A: I’ve loved Roosters ever since I was a little kid. It’s the best chicken wings out there. My family loves it; we all like to go there and celebrate different occasions. They just flat out have the best chicken wings. It’s a little chain in Ohio, [so I can’t get them here].

Q: What makes Roosters so good?

A: Their chicken wings are so meaty, and they have the best sauces. And the best sides to compliment the main serving.

Q: What’s your go-to flavor?

A: A mix of Hot and Sweet Thai. With Dumpster Fries (fries topped with melted cheese, bacon bits, tomatoes, green onions, jalapenos and Dumpster Dressing).

Q: Are you their unofficial spokesman?

A: I’d say so. I’m the wing man.

Q: Outside of food and football, what do you like to for fun?

A: I like relaxing. My roommate [Vikings linebacker Ben Gedeon] and I just got a new recliner, so we’re spending a lot of time on that. We like to go to movies, check out different attractions, different lakes. Just explore the area.

Q: Do you have a favorite lake?

A: Bryant Lake was pretty good. Lake Minnetonka was fun. There’s a bunch of them.

Q: You had a pretty big draft party, what was it like having that in a barn?

A: It was at my parents’ house. We have a big barn. It’s 40 [feet] by 60 [feet]. We did it all up with speakers and projectors. We had the whole shebang; it was fun.