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Lunchbreak: Defensive Continuity a Boost for Vikings

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NFL players consistently turn to repetition to improve, whether it's in the weight room or on the practice field.

Playing with the same players year after year can also help a team, something the Vikings defense is banking on in 2016.

John Holler of Viking Update recently looked at how Minnesota's defense should be strong again this season, especially with the majority of the unit returning from last season.

Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Brian Robison, Danielle Hunter, Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson are back on the defensive line, and Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are set in stone at linebacker.

Most of the secondary also returns, a group that includes, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Trae Waynes, Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo.

The continuity is a tool for Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards, who has taken charge of the unit with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer resting at home for health reasons.

Holler wrote:

*One of the best things the team has going for them during Zimmer's absence is that, while there are plenty of new faces and young veteran players having their roles being redefined in 2017, with a couple of notable exceptions (Captain Munnerlyn and Chad Greenway), the majority of the key defensive players are back. *

*Having that continuity has made the flow of the OTA workouts and the expectations placed upon players something that has a comfort level that can withstand being without the head honcho on site. *

"That has definitely been a blessing," Edwards said. "Some of guys have been here for over three years for us, some two, but having that continuity, especially on our side of the ball, has been a blessing when it comes to communication, the different techniques and fundamentals, and things we are working on schematically through this period."

Minnesota's defense ranked third in yards allowed per game (314.9) and sixth in points allowed per game (19.2) in 2016.

Rudolph ranked among NFL's top tight ends 

Gary Grambling and Andy Benoit host The MMQB Podcast and are going through NFL rosters to unveil their top 10 players at each position.

The duo released their tight end rankings on Monday and had Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph at No. 10 on the list.

Grambling and Benoit said Rudolph's skills as a pass catcher helped elevate his game in recent years.

"He did have a big year as a receiver and was actually the most targeted tight end in the league last season," Grambling said.

Added Benoit: "He's dependable. For what he's asked to do in the passing game, he does very well."

Rudolph had 83 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016, his sixth season in the NFL.

The former Notre Dame standout was one of the league's most productive tight ends last season. He ranked third in receptions, fourth in yards and tied for third in touchdowns.

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