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Joe Berger Happy to 'Reunite' with Tony Sparano

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Joe Berger wasn't entirely surprised when he heard the Vikings hired Tony Sparano as their new Offensive Line Coach.

The Vikings offensive lineman, who played under Sparano for two other organizations, said his new position coach reminds him of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. 

Both coaches, Berger said, value hard work and toughness.

View images of the Vikings new offensive line coach Tony Sparano.

"That's the kind of culture that Coach Zimmer is trying to bring in," Berger said. "I think Tony fits that … he's very business-like. I think he's a good fit for what Coach Zimmer is looking for."

Berger played for Sparano in Dallas in 2007, and also in 2009 and 2010 when Sparano was the head coach with the Dolphins.

The 11th-year veteran said he enjoyed his time with Sparano.

"With an (offensive) line coach, what you want is someone who is very good with technique and Tony was," Berger said. "I had a good experience with him."

Sparano, who told Viking.com's Mike Wobschall last week that he can't wait to get to work, recalled fond memories of Berger.

"I don't want to single out any players. But I have been with Joe in two spots," Sparano said. "I like his toughness and his intelligence and the things he brings that way. He's from a small school and was an outstanding young man when I worked with him."

Sparano replaced Jeff Davidson as the new offensive line coach. Berger, a graduate of Michigan Tech, said the transition is somewhat bittersweet.

"It was kind of one of those mixed things," Berger said. "I spent four years with Jeff and had a good relationship there. It's nice to reunite with someone you have a history with, but at the same time you're saying goodbye to someone else."

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Berger started every game at center for the Vikings this year after John Sullivan suffered an injury in the preseason.

He helped Adrian Peterson run for a league-leading 1,485 yards and was recently named the league's best run blocker by Pro Football Focus.

"Anytime someone recognizes you as doing something well, it's a good thing," Berger said. "I don't know all the ins and outs of what they use for grading, obviously the most important thing is how I'm graded in our building.

"It's a testament to how our line blocked this year and how Adrian ran the ball downhill," he added. "With something like that, it's kind of everyone working together."

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