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Linval Joseph & Sheldon Richardson Building Bond on D-Line

EAGAN, Minn. —The men in the middle of the Vikings defense are growing closer.

Vikings defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson explained how excited they are to work together to "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on KFAN 100.3-FM's 9 to Noon show from TCO Studios in a segment that aired Friday.

Richardson signed with Minnesota as a free agent in March and will play alongside Joseph, who has been to two straight Pro Bowls.

"I try to know a lot of great defensive linemen in the league and definitely knew about Linval," Richardson said. "Actually coming here, working out with him and getting to know him, he's put me through the ringer a little bit. It's been awhile since somebody has pushed me like that."

Added Joseph: "I knew he was a very explosive player. He made a lot of plays when he was in New York. I was excited to get a young, 3-technique and just to see what he can bring to the table. He has the chance to be really great."

Joseph led all Vikings defensive linemen with 93 tackles (coaches' tally) and was a key factor in Minnesota ranking second in the NFL in rush yards allowed (83.6 per game). He also had 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.

He explained how the duo's relationship has grown in recent weeks as the Vikings have jumped into their voluntary offseason workout program.

"At the end of the day, we have to work together. I want him to be the best he can be," Joseph said. "I know if I help him and teach him what I know or show him what I see, it can make him be more fast and explosive.

"Every day, every week, every month, we're getting to know each other more. Sooner or later we're going to start doing more things … dinners and stuff like that," Joseph later added. "I hang with all the d-linemen. We all spend time together, go out to dinner, and that's how you bond on and off the field." 

Richardson has started 70 of 73 career games played in five seasons, including 15 with Seattle in 2017 when he had 44 tackles (27 solo), a sack, one pass defensed, two fumble recoveries and his first career interception.

The 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year said he feels at home in the early stages of his time in Purple.

"For me, I wanted to go somewhere where I fit in the most with a good coaching staff and get along with everybody," said Richardson, who signed a 1-year deal. "Make sure the system fit me and I can adjust quickly without having any kinks.

"Last year I got traded right before the season, so it was kind of hard to get adjusted. It's different here though with [Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson] getting me right and redefining everything and making myself a better player," Richardson added. "I'm getting there. It's been a while since I could say I'm learning something [new] in this league."

Both Joseph and Richardson chatted with Allen about already getting excited about the 2018 season.

Joseph was a key piece to a Vikings defense that finished first in the NFL in points allowed, yards allowed and third-down defense. He noted he's been energized by training at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. 

"I take every year as a restart, a refresh," Joseph said. "This year we have this beautiful practice facility, and it's like another jolt of energy."

Richardson, meanwhile, is looking for his first taste of the postseason.

"I hate to be a part of that … I didn't like that at all," Richardson of missing the playoffs this past season with Seattle. "That's what I'm in this league for, to get my first shot in the playoffs. It was a learning experience." 

Joseph and Richardson are ready to team together to try and help the Vikings reach another level after Minnesota went 13-3 and went to the NFC title game in 2017.

But they know they'll have to work together to make it a season to remember.

"We all help each other, and that's the best part and what I like about everybody here," said Richardson, who quipped that Joseph can take up both A gaps on the defensive line. "No matter their success, they all know it's about the team. It's the unit that makes us as great as we are."

Added Joseph: "It's team ball. That's all it is here. There's no selfishness … it's all together. At the end of the day, you count numbers, but to be successful and win games, you have to play together."

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