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Blake Cashman & Jonathan Greenard Eager to Dial into Vikings Defense

EAGAN, Minn. — Not his mom, not his dad, not his brother.

Instead, it was a Texans teammate turning into a Vikings teammate that got the second phone call from Blake Cashman.

The Minnesota native was in Houston earlier this week when he received news of an offer to come play for his hometown team. The news broke a bit after his former Texans teammate Jonathan Greenard also received an offer to join the Vikings.

Cashman called his girlfriend first and then dialed Greenard.

"I was on the phone with this guy right here," Cashman explained Thursday while sitting between Greenard and fellow Vikings newcomer Andrew Van Ginkel. "We immediately were just sharing our excitement, congratulating each other and talking about what kind of mentality we're going into this with, and 'We're gonna make this a great year.' We both came off, you know, probably our best season so we just want to continue to work hard and take the next step."

Cashman has had plenty of phone upgrades over the years, but his cell is the same number he's had since age 16 at Eden Prairie High School. It's been called by Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck, as well as others he hasn't seen as recently as playing at the University of Minnesota from 2015-18.

"P.J. definitely hit me up, congratulating and welcoming me back home. You know, it gives me an opportunity to pop into the building over there at Minnesota and check in on all my old coaches," Cashman said. "But you know, I was overwhelmed with how many people were reaching and supporting me. I have the same phone number I've had since I was 16, so I had people I haven't seen or heard from [since] high school congratulating me, but that's what made it so special. Just what this is all about is the people that love you and support you get to share this experience and enjoy the ride with you."

Cashman was originally a fifth-round pick of the Jets in 2019. After three seasons with New York, he played the past two with Houston.

After starting eight games in his first four pro seasons, Cashman opened 13 of 14 played for DeMeco Ryans last season, recording career-bests of 106 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five passes defensed and his first career interception. Ryans also entrusted Cashman to be the caller of the defense and moved him around at multiple linebacker spots.

"I felt like we had our best games when he was our communicator," Greenard said. "I feel like at that time he made everybody just kind of calm down and not get too stressed. A lot of environments which we're going to be in again, obviously, but his speed overall. I mean, we both like to play fast. So I think that me being decisive and making a play can make his job a lot easier, or if I clean up a blocker and he can run free, you know, just certain things like that, we kind of fed off each other, and I think that was one of the fun things to do.

"I can't see behind me, so if I made a bad play, like I'm hoping Blake clears me up, so he's definitely one of those guys who knows a lot about football, and can help a lot of younger guys as well," Greenard added. "Any time we get to learn ball and each other is great for the relationship and for the team, so I can't say enough. I'm excited to get this thing going."

Greenard was selected in the third round by the Texans in 2020. He made 13 starts over his first three seasons and also was elevated by Ryans in 2023, when Greenard recorded career bests of 52 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 22 QB hits and 12.5 sacks over the course of starting all 15 games he played.

He saw a post on X in which he and Cashman were tagged a little before receiving the call from Cashman.

"Once I actually saw the news and the picture come across, I was like, 'We get to go back, you know, 5-2 (Greenard's number with the Texans), 5-3 (Cashman's number with the Texans) coming back in Houston but definitely get to bring it over here and definitely bring the energy," Greenard said. "Super excited. Great guy, great teammate. You know, we get to do something real special. I'm in his hometown, his home state, so he's gonna take me out a little bit a couple of times. And you know, it'll be good, man. We're super, super excited to be here."

They'll now look forward to dialing into the Vikings defense coordinated for the second consecutive season by Brian Flores, who was Miami's head coach when the Dolphins drafted Van Ginkel, who is excited to rejoin a Flores defense.

"He's kind of really molded me into the player I am today, and we went through a lot of hard times," Van Ginkel said. "But just the way he used me, it's very versatile, and being able to line up in different positions makes it tough on opponents and [their] game planning, so it was definitely what intrigued me."

The three began connecting with Vikings coaches and new offensive teammates Sam Darnold and Aaron Jones during a dinner at the Omni Viking Lakes Hotel Wednesday night.

"They're walking out of that dinner, you know, it's really with a bond already and they all talk about how excited they are to join kind of what's been built here and in the locker room and how excited they are," Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said Thursday. "They've already talked to some of their teammates. It's really cool from my perspective to see."

Greenard said the dinner was a newer experience for him but one that he enjoyed.

"That environment with coaches sitting down with you, talking through that stuff and just having that open communication, knowing we all want the same thing at the end of the day," Greenard said. "You know, it's about just getting the job done and it can be achieved through communication. So I just think having that and seeing them in their element outside of football was pretty cool. And new for me. So that was definitely good."

Asked if it's been surreal to join the Vikings, Cashman said it's been "amazing" and "a little overwhelming."

"It's going to be special just because I get to share this moment with my loved ones — family and friends," Cashman said. "You know, I don't think I've ever been this excited to get ready and start an offseason program. I'm itching and I'm antsy. And you know, that's a good sign. I can't wait to get to work with my teammates and coaches and get familiar with everyone."