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Edwards, Vikings Assistants See Benefits of Back-to-Back Bowls

George Edwards prepped quickly and efficiently for all but one thing.

The Vikings Defensive Coordinator received a cold shock when players on the West team he coached to a 10-3 win last Saturday at the 92nd East-West Shrine Game doused him with a cooler full of Gatorade.

"That one kind of caught me off guard a little bit, but it was all in good fun," Edwards said Tuesday, now in Mobile, Alabama, for the 68th Senior Bowl. "Those guys really worked hard for us during the course of the week, and it was a very enjoyable week for us. Hopefully they got a lot out of it."

Edwards was able to lead a staff of other assistants, including Kevin Stefanski, Hank Fraley and Andrew Janocko in their work with draft-eligible prospects.

It was the first time that the East-West Shrine Game has implemented active NFL coaches, and Edwards said the experience was rewarding from a football perspective, as well as learning of the work that Shriners do for hospitalized children.

"It was very educational for me, and I think the players had a good time, and working with coaches from other staffs and getting to know them was a great experience," Edwards said. "We really enjoyed our week and hope we got some good evaluations out of it."

The benefits included the up-close views of the prospects in meetings, during practices and in the game, as well as the opportunity to work with several different coaches quickly and efficiently.

"I think it was good to sit and talk about different problems we've run into schematically, different things fundamentally and kind of run through those things and come together with a cohesive plan to play in the game that week," Edwards said.

Edwards said he enjoyed working with the entire roster and appreciated the work that Stefanski, Fraley and Janocko did with the offensive players.

His counterpart for the East was Arizona defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, so it's not surprising that defenses performed well, especially with the challenges of putting together an offense with so many uniquely sourced pieces.

"It was a very low-scoring day. Being a defensive guy, I kind of liked the way that that turned out," Edwards said. "It's hard with a group of young guys coming into this league and all of a sudden learning new technique, new terminology and new fundamentals, and to get them in a cohesive and the timing of an offense down in the course of a week, it's pretty tough, so we thought it would be a little more defense-oriented."

Now, Edwards and Vikings assistants have pivoted to the Reese's Senior Bowl, an annual offseason destination where coaches, scouts and personnel executives convene to evaluate more than 100 draft-eligible prospects.

Entering his 20th NFL season, Edwards estimated that he's made the trip to Mobile 15 times. He said he likes the looks that the practices provide coaches because players are able to show "fundamentals and techniques that we know they're going to be taught and asked to do when they come to this level."

"Most of them are off training at different sites in preparation for the NFL Combine, but playing football is a lot different than going out and training to run and jump and do those kinds of things," Edwards said. "It's an integral part of it, and I understand that at the end of the day, but also playing football is what we're going to evaluate them on, so getting a chance to see them first hand is definitely an advantage in the evaluation process."

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