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'Battle-Tested' Jeff Gladney Can Take Minnesota Cold & Zimmer's Heat

EAGAN, Minn. – New Vikings cornerback Jeff Gladney isn't scared off by stories of Minnesota winters.

In fact, the cold weather will be a break from the more-than-100-degree heat indexes he's used to.

Gladney, whom the Vikings drafted 31st overall out of TCU, spoke with Twin Cities media members Friday via video conference and said he's not concerned about moving to the North after his time with the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Fun fact, I like cold weather," Gladney said. "That's kind of a plus for me."

TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson also spoke with reporters Friday and emphasized Gladney's mental fortitude and commitment to the game, no matter the environment.

"He's a guy that's battle-tested, having to play 80, 90 plays [per game]," Patterson said. "One time in practice, he was one of the guys – where everybody was down – where he took the 1 reps, the 2 reps and the 3 reps just so we could get through practice. And that's in 112-115-degree heat.

"You've got a guy who understands how to do that, how to fight through all of that and how to play," he later added.

View photos of TCU CB Jeff Gladney who was selected by the Vikings in the first round of the NFL Draft.

One aspect Gladney knows won't cool down, though, is in the area of tough coaching.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer can bring the heat, especially with his defensive backs. Patterson said he and Zimmer share similarities in philosophy and believes Gladney has proven he can take coaching and critique.

"Actually, Coach Zim' will be a mild cat compared to here. Let me just say that. Him and I are about the same," Patterson said. "Here's how many passing yards we wanted [the opponent] to get: zero. Anything over zero is not good.

"I know that's not realistic. [But] that's just kind of the way we go about it, and I think that's kind of the way that [Zimmer] goes about it," Patterson continued. "And Jeff's going to be able to handle that. He's from East Texas. He's country-tough. He can handle those types of things."

Gladney recognizes the passion and love for the game behind tough coaches' demeanor and delivery.

He called Patterson a "fiery" coach who wasn't one to sugarcoat things.

"He was definitely going to tell you what was on his mind. But at the end of the day, it was great. I like guys like that who tell you not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear," Gladney said. "I'm sure Coach Zim' will be the same way. I'm just ready to meet him and ready to learn from him."

Gladney said he's taken coaching well at each stop, whether in youth leagues, high school or at TCU.

"Some coaches were hard [on you] and some coaches weren't as hard, but they both had a message to get across, and you just needed to hear both of them because they're coaches for a reason," Gladney said.

His toughness also has shown up in the face of injuries.

He played through a meniscus injury in 2019 and even competed at the NFL Scouting Combine, clocking in at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Asked why he chose to still run, Gladney responded nonchalantly.

"No one really told me not to. Everybody who knew me knew I was going to participate in the combine and still do everything with my knee," he said. "I was just trying to get myself [seen] by all the teams, just let them know how much it meant to me – even though [I had] a torn meniscus, I'm tough like that. So I feel like it paid off."

Gladney will join a young Vikings cornerbacks group, where 2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes and Holton Hill, an undrafted free agent from that class, are the longest-tenured guys in the bunch. He has some familiarity with fellow Texas native Kris Boyd, a 2019 selection, and is looking forward to meeting all of his new teammates when the COVID-19 restrictions are lessened.

Patterson believes Gladney will fit in well with the Minnesota locker room and culture.

He emphasized that Gladney understands the "we" mindset and is not self-focused. For Vikings fans familiar with reserve offensive lineman Aviante Collins, Patterson compared Gladney's character to that of Collins, a fellow TCU product who has been greatly involved in the Minnesota community despite battling injuries. Collins joined Minnesota as an undrafted free agent in 2017.

"He's a guy that isn't going to cause problems because it's not going to be about him," Patterson said. "Aviante Collins … exemplifies what our guys are like. Tough, going to play wherever you need them, going to carry the water, be the water boy, do whatever it is no matter when they get drafted. If they aren't, I'm calling them on the phone because they represent all of us. Jeff, he really understands what we think coming out of here."