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Alex Boone Bringing Attitude to Vikings Offensive Line

All of the Vikings offensive linemen weigh more than 300 pounds, but 6-foot-8 Alex Boone is the tallest of the group.

The left guard also brings a boisterous personality to the field and locker room. He is known as one of the Vikings loudest and most vocal players.

Known as a brash but loyal teammate, the "Rhino" has injected the Vikings offensive line with a relentless and fierce attitude since he arrived in Minnesota as a free agent this offseason.

Where did Boone get his feisty demeanor?

"Being from Cleveland," Boone said. "Not taking anything from anybody. That's just kind of how I was raised."

Boone carried that mindset with him to Ohio State, where he was twice-named an All-Big Ten selection. And he brought it with him to the NFL when he joined San Francisco as an undrafted free agent in 2009.

After spending that season on the 49ers practice squad and appearing in one game in 2010 and playing all 16 as a reserve in 2011, Boone grew into a starter's role. He started 59 of the 60 games he's played in the past four seasons.

The San Francisco Zoo even named a baby black rhinoceros after Boone.

The Vikings prioritized signing Boone when free agency opened because Head Coach Mike Zimmer wanted to add a shot of adrenaline in the form of Boone's attitude to the position group.

"He has kind of changed the mentality of the offensive line room, him and Coach (Tony) Sparano, and that's a good thing," Zimmer said. "That's part of the reason why we did what we did this offseason."

Boone said when he signed in March that he wanted to join the Vikings as soon as they showed interest during free agency. The Midwest native wanted the opportunity to join the physical NFC North.

"I feel the love everywhere, and that's what's so fun about this," Boone said. "As soon as I got in there, I could tell the excitement of the guys. They told me they weren't happy with last year, and we need to go farther, and I agreed.

"This is what we play this game for, to move on and play the next week," he added. "I think we're all on the same page, and we're all going to do what we can to get there."

The Vikings were the only team in the NFL to start the same five players on the offensive line in every game last season.

But Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer felt the need to modify the unit, so they brought in Boone and veteran offensive tackle Andre Smith. Minnesota also hired Sparano as the new offensive line coach.

Boone said the transition to a new team, locker room and city has been seamless. He is in line to start between left tackle Matt Kalil and center Joe Berger.

 "If everybody believes in the same thing and buys into the same thing, that we're going to be the toughest, the meanest, the nastiest group, it's not going to take very long for everybody to get on the same page," Boone said.

"I think it's crucial that everybody does buy into that. It's easy to say one thing and believe another," he added. "You've got to believe that we are going to be the most feared group out there, and that's what we're looking for right now."

Zimmer echoed Boone's thoughts, saying the 29-year-old isn't afraid to let his opinion be known.

"I think he has been good for our offensive line room. He has been vocal in a good way," Zimmer said. "I [asked] Chad Greenway about how Boone was in the locker room, and he said, 'He's great. People respect him.' "

Boone was part of San Francisco's run to three consecutive NFC Championship games and appearance in Super Bowl XLVII.

"I just think I'm one of the old guys," said Boone, who played in eight postseason contests with San Francisco. "Been around the block, won some games, played in a championship, lost it."

"I just want to be a part of something special," he added.

Boone said his persona on the field is more than just words. Sure, he'll get into it with an opponent sometimes.

But he also said he actually enjoys the preparation and intensity that comes with going against someone for upwards of 60 to 70 times per game.

"I like to think that after time goes on, I beat them down," Boone said. "But there are a lot of good defensive players in this league, and it's a battle for four quarters, and that's what I love about it."

The Vikings are counting on Boone to infuse their offense, and especially the offensive linemen, with a testy demeanor for the 2016 season.

The group will be called on to block for running back Adrian Peterson, who is in position to add to his career total of 11,675 rushing yards and maneuver his way into the Top 10 on the league's all-time rushing list. Peterson is entering his 10th season at 17th all-time.

They also will be tasked with helping the entire team compensate for the loss of third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice Tuesday.

Boone wants to help Minnesota's offensive line elevate the offense as a whole.

It will all start up front.

"We're brothers," Boone said of his position group. "Same mission, same goal … to be the most feared offensive line in the history of the NFL."

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