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Lunch Break, 8/7: Rhodes Targets Increase in INT's

Xavier Rhodes has shown skill in knocking footballs down or away from opposing receivers, but this year, the third-year pro has more of a mindset to not let the ball hit the ground.

Tim Yotter of Viking Update asked Rhodes for details of the interception he recorded in Tuesday night's practice in the red zone during a two-minute drill.

"It was in Cover-2. I had to stay underneath the receiver. The ball was in the air and I just made a play on it," Rhodes told Yotter. "It was good being able to make a play and get the defense off the field in two-minute."

Rhodes had 23 passes defensed as a rookie and followed with 18 last season, when he also nabbed his first career interception at Chicago. Even though the numbers of passes defensed dropped from year one to year two, it was unanimous that Rhodes was one of the most improved Vikings under the leadership of Head Coach Mike Zimmer and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray.

Rhodes told Yotter that his focus is on being more aggressive in 2015.

"Go and get the ball instead of knocking them down. That's what I do all the (time). I tend to just try to knock them down, but this year I'm going to try to go up and just catch them this year," he said.

Yotter noted that interceptions are often what Pro Bowl voters notice first when casting ballots for cornerbacks, but Rhodes desire for more picks is rooted in helping the defense become more dynamic:

While that might be part of the incentive for Rhodes' change in philosophy, he also knows that a pass defensed simply ends the play as a win for the defense. A pass intercepted ends the drive and gives him and his defensive teammates a rest.

"This year I'm going to try to take it to another level and just try to pick it off," he said. "I'm just working on basically the mental outlook because my whole thing going into a game is to not allow a receiver to catch the ball, so any means necessary – either batting it or picking, intercepting it. But this year it's intercepting the ball."

Digging deeper

Rookie Stefon Diggs has impressed when fans and media have been around to see him in practice, but he's also put in work when no one was around.

Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune revisited Diggs' first day of offseason workouts when he was presented a "catalog of new plays."

*Everything was new and different, and he wanted to make sure he had a grasp of his responsibilities. *

*So he grabbed his helmet and went to the field by himself. *

*It was late in the evening on the Vikings' first day of OTAs at Winter Park. Most of the players already had gone home for the day. *

*A team employee looked out at the practice field and noticed a lone figure. *

It was Diggs, a rookie, running different pass routes that he had learned earlier that day.

"It was my first time being in this offense and seeing certain plays," Diggs said Thursday, "so I wanted to be out there on the field and get a feel for it."

Click here for the full story.

Quick Hitters

Color from the "Enshrinees Gold Jacket Dinner" in Canton, Ohio from Mark Craig of the Star Tribune and from Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Mick Tingelhoff, who will be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, received his gold jacket at the ceremony that was well-attended by Vikings legends.

Past Vikings legends recalled memories of Mankato, which is in its 50th season of hosting Vikings training camp.

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