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Lunchbreak: 'Familiarity & Continuity' Should Help Vikings Defense in 2018

There's no denying that the Vikings 2017 season was overall a successful one – winning 14 games in the NFL, including a Divisional round playoff game, is no small feat.

But if you ask the front office, coaches and players, they're not satisfied.

John Holler of *Viking Update *spoke with Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks after Minnesota was defeated in the NFC Championship game by Philadelphia.

"I don't think anyone is satisfied," Kendricks said. "We had a good year; I think we all understand that. But, we had the Super Bowl as our goal. We got really close, but we didn't get that accomplished. You don't get a lot of chances to get this close, and we didn't make the most out of it when we had the chance."

Holler wrote:

*Historically, a significant number of the teams that lose in conference title games one year have taken a step backward the following season. *

But, when it comes to the Vikings defense, they may have the answer to avoiding that backward step. For the last three seasons, most of the defensive starters have been in place, including Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Danielle Hunter and Brian Robison up front, Kendricks and Anthony Barr in the middle and Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo on the back end.

Holler called said it's rare to see "that familiarity and continuity" in the league, and Kendricks said it will be key to keeping the Vikings in contention.

"Most of the guys that were here when I came in as a rookie are still here," Kendricks said. "They helped me. Over three years, our communication is great, and they've taught me a lot. We just learned a lot together."

Former Vikings to play against wounded vets for charity

There are countless activities and opportunities to meet current and former NFL players throughout the week leading up to Super Bowl LII.

One of the events scheduled is taking place outside of downtown – a unique football game at Concordia University-St. Paul. Michael Rand of the *Star Tribune *wrote about the fundraiser for Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota, a flag football game between Minnesota Vikings/NFL alumni players and the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team. Rand wrote:

Dave Stevens, who was born without legs but later played college football at Augsburg and also covered sports for KSTP and ESPN, is among those playing in and promoting the event. He's wrangled several former Vikings to participate, including Robert Smith, Rich Gannon, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams.

"It's been near and dear to me in terms of getting a lot of Vikings participation. It's going to be a great night with a lot of great Vikings from the past," Stevens told Rand. "The game is about honoring the veterans. I didn't serve, but this is about treating these guys like the heroes they are — missing arms and legs and being able to come out and do this."

Tickets to the event are $10 for adults and free for children and students.

Pat Shurmur thanks Vikings 'outstanding organization'

After two years with the Vikings, Pat Shurmur was last week named the new head coach of the New York Giants.

Shurmur initially started in Minnesota as the tight ends coach but took over as offensive coordinator in November 2016. During his time in that role, he worked with Sam Bradford and then Case Keenum and helped the Vikings offense improve to 11th in the NFL for overall offense, after ranking 28th in 2016.

During his introductory press conference for the Giants, Shurmur extended gratitude to the Vikings and spoke highly of the organization across the board.

"I'd like to thank the Minnesota Vikings," Shurmur said. "We went there two years ago and quickly became very close to the people up there – [Owners] Mark and Zygi Wilf, obviously [Chief Operating Officer] Kevin Warren, Rob Brzezinski, George Paton, and then certainly, along the way, [General Manager] Rick Spielman and [Head Coach] Mike Zimmer.

"They are an outstanding organization – I want to thank the players, as well – they are an old-school operation with an eye on the future, and they do it right," Shurmur continued. "And if we're going to get to where we need to be, at some point we're going to have play them and beat them. So that will be a challenge for us."

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