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Hunter Hungry for More Success in 2nd Season with Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings are through two weeks of no-contact organized team activity (OTA) practices, meaning they aren't at full speed just yet.

Until the pads come on, however, Danielle Hunter and the other Vikings defensive ends are working on the technical side of their craft.

"We're learning a lot," Hunter told on Thursday. "We're focusing on our techniques and our rush angles.

"It's all about just getting the little things like your hand placement and then constantly using your speed," he added. "There's no contact, so you just focus on the little things."

Hunter has performed well so far in OTAs, although he said it's tough to gauge because of the non-contact limitations.

After finishing 2015 second among all rookies with 6.0 sacks, the 21-year-old said he's hungry for more this year.

"I just have to build off what happened last year," Hunter said. "I have to constantly keep pushing my speed and using my hands, just doing whatever the coaches tell me to do."

Hunter credited veterans for staying on him and dishing out advice, but the former LSU standout received a crash course in pass rushing Wednesday from one of the game's all-time greats.

Former Vikings defensive end John Randle, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, stopped by practice to give some pointers.

Randle is tied for seventh all-time with 137.5 sacks and is Minnesota's franchise leader with 114 sacks.

"It was pretty awesome," Hunter said. "He taught some moves that we could use.

"He broke it down step by step," Hunter added. "If you've got somebody great telling you something, you might as well write it down and see if you can do it one day."

Drafted just over a year ago, Hunter was looked at as a player with raw potential to go along with plenty of size. Hunter is 6-foot-5 and 252 pounds with arms that extend 34 ¼ inches.

The Vikings drafted a player with a similar build again this year, tabbing Stephen Weatherly from Vanderbilt. Weatherly is 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds with 34 ½-inch arms.

Hunter said he is passing along any knowledge he can to the rookie.

"Weatherly is a great athlete," Hunter said. "I can sort of see some parts of him that are in me — long-limbed, speed. He's learning a lot right now."

No time to waste

The Vikings offense excelled in crunch time Thursday as they ran a two-minute drill to try and get in field goal range.

Each of the three offenses — led by quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill and Taylor Heinicke — were able to get in scoring position.

Minnesota's first-team offense was particularly effective on third down as Bridgewater found wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson on separate occasions to move the chains.

Thursday's top plays

One of the highlights of practice came on the first play of team drills.

Bridgewater fired a pass that cornerback Xavier Rhodes appeared to tip away, but wide receiver Jarius Wright snagged the ball out of midair and raced up the sideline. 

Here are a few other noteworthy plays from Thursday:

— A day after knocking down three passes, cornerback Marcus Sherels had another solid day. Sherels left his feet and hauled in an interception during team drills off Heinicke.

— Tight end Brian Leonhardt had a nice leaping catch on a pass from Joel Stave.

— Safety Andrew Sendejo had a near interception of Bridgewater when he made a quick break on a pass over the middle.

— Rookie cornerback Tre Roberson batted away a pass from Heinicke in team drills.

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