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Lunch Break, 11/14: Youth Being Served In Secondary

Many around the NFL view youth as a detriment to a team, but first year Head Coach Mike Zimmer doesn't look at ages when evaluating players. The Vikings secondary is full of youngsters who have been steadily improving since the new regime has gotten their hands on them. 

View images from the Thursday, November 13 practice at Winter Park.

Matt Vensel from the Star Tribune writes about the Vikings taking a risk on a youthful secondary:

Captain Munnerlyn hears it all the time in the meeting room. He's the old guy. A geezer.

Even though Munnerlyn turned 26 in April and will play just his 87th NFL game Sunday, as far as his buddies in the secondary are concerned, he is closer to AARP than the SEC.

Sure, the cornerback's hairline appears to be backpedaling ever so slightly. But the way his fellow defensive backs take digs at him, you would think he had already gone gray.

"Nah, I'm still young," Munnerlyn said with a laugh. "I might have a bald head soon, but I ain't going to have no gray hair."

Munnerlyn, mostly by default, is the oldest starter in a Vikings secondary that has grown up quickly during Mike Zimmer's first season as head coach. With an average age of 24.6 in their starting nickel group, the Vikings have one of the NFL's youngest secondaries.* *

And after experiencing plenty of growing pains during a challenging start that included Pro Bowl quarterbacks Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers, the Vikings have smothered opposing passers of late.

They now rank fourth in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 213.6 yards per game. Their defensive backs have eight interceptions, already two more than a season ago.

"They've already got physical ability, but now that mental part is sinking in," defensive backs coach Jerry Gray said. "It's slowing down for them."

As Vensel mentions, all five regular contributing members of the Vikings secondary are under contract for next season giving this group the opportunity to grow into one of the more formidable units in the league.

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