EAGAN, Minn. – Reshard Cliett is grateful for the opportunity to be back in pads and hopes to make the most of it.
Cliett entered the league in 2015 as a sixth-round draft pick with the Texans, but he suffered an ACL tear in September and was placed on Injured Reserve. Since that time, he spent time with five other teams and was last waived by the Chiefs in August of 2017 before the Vikings signed him on March 29.
Having played in a 4-3 system at South Florida, Cliett is excited to be back in that base defense for the first time in the NFL and was complimented by defensive coordinator George Edwards during his press conference Saturday.
“I feel like the system is a good fit,” Cliett said. “[And it’s] such a great defense – so many big names, so many consistent people, good people. Good teammates. I think I can fit right on in there.”
Big names in the linebackers room include Pro Bowler Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, who Cliett said are incredibly helpful along with other players who have been part of the Vikings defense for multiple years.
“I can go to any of those guys on the starting defense or any of the guys on the second defense and ask them a question, and they’ll answer just like that,” Cliett said, snapping his fingers. “They’re so consistent and so good, of course, because of the last couple years [of experience], so it’s so good for me as a new guy to come in and learn from those guys.”
Cliett also talked about learning under linebackers coach Adam Zimmer, the son of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
According to Cliett, the younger coach is “super smart” and makes it easier to learn the playbook and different formations asked of the defense. He added that Adam Zimmer’s demeanor contributes to the atmosphere of the position room.
“Coach Zim’ is very laid back, so we mesh really well, and we laugh and joke around,” Cliett said. “But when the Xs and Os come up, we make sure that we get serious and talk great football.”
Here are three other topics Cliett talked about with Vikings.com:
On the importance of playing special teams
Vikings coaches have emphasized the importance of special teams, and it’s a responsibility that Cliett has embraced.
“Special teams is a huge role, especially for the younger guys. I try my best to be in Prief’s (Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer’s) right pocket, just so I can excel. Learning defense is one thing, but special teams is really about heart and guts.”
On admiring Troy Polamalu growing up
While the Georgia native was more seriously a basketball fan growing up, he looked up to a few talented NFL names, including a pair of safeties.
“I played safety in high school, so I used to always look at the safeties – so Troy Polamalu and Brian Dawkins, guys like that,” said Cliett, who added that it’s been interesting to be on a team with Troy’s uncle, Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu.
“We go against the RBs [in practice], and I love his energy. So much energy. And it’s super exciting to get to know the uncle of one of the greats.”
Cliett has the same number, 43, that Troy wore for 12 seasons with the Steelers.
On future plans for communications degree
At South Florida, Cliett initially majored in interdisciplinary social science at South Florida but ended up rerouting and acquiring a degree in communications.
In addition to still referencing the writing and organization skills learned in the program, Cliett hopes to put the degree to work in the future.
“I want to be able to communicate well with the kids in my community and start some type of program so that I can benefit kids and other people in my community – [I want to] help out that way,” Cliett said.
Editor’s Note: This series will run frequently during 2018 Vikings Verizon Training Camp. It will offer a quick snapshot of players on Minnesota’s roster who are looking to make a name for themselves in camp.