Jaleel Johnson could be pulling double duty for the Vikings in 2018 by lining up at both interior spots of the defensive line.
Minnesota employs the 3-technique defensive tackle spot as more of an athletic position, while the nose tackle is more rugged.
Johnson primarily played 3-technique as a rookie last year, but has been asked to dabble in both spots in 2018. But in order to be able to handle the rigors of playing nose tackle, Johnson had to bulk up.
The former fourth-round pick recently chatted with Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press about how he has revamped his diet and put on some solid weight this offseason.
Johnson said he put on 10 “good” pounds to get up to 300. One reason for that is he will be playing a lot more nose tackle.
The 6-foot-3, 23-year-old primarily was a 3-technique defensive tackle last season as a rookie, when he played just 41 snaps. With the Vikings losing versatile Shamar Stephen in free agency, Johnson is being counted on to be the team’s top interior reserve on the defensive line.
“If we dress three on game day, he’ll probably be the guy that has to swing,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Johnson credited Rasa Troup, the Vikings Team Nutritionist, for helping him add weight in a healthy manner.
He was considered too light to play nose tackle when he tipped the scales at 290 pounds, so the Vikings urged him to put on 10 pounds.
“I just ate the right foods,” Johnson said. “We have a nutritionist here. I talked to her, and she just recommended a bunch of foods I should eat. ... I upped my vegetable intake and a little more protein.”
Johnson had two total tackles (according to coaches’ tally), and played on special teams as a rookie.
But he could see a larger role in his second season in Purple.
Johnson played both nose tackle and 3-technique at Iowa. Now that he will be play both spots again, he’s excited about contributing much more than he did as a rookie.
“I’m doing whatever I can to make sure I’m doing good at both positions,” Johnson said. “If Linval needs a blow, I’ll go in at nose. If Sheldon needs a blow, I’ll go in at three-technique. So it’s having that flexibility.”
Cronin: Rudolph could surpass 2017 touchdown total
Kyle Rudolph was among the top players at his position in 2017 as he recorded 57 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns.
That was good enough to earn the Vikings tight end a trip to the Pro Bowl, as he eight scores were tied for the second-most among all tight ends.
As the 2018 draws near, ESPN Vikings beat reporter Courtney Cronin believes Rudolph could be in line for another strong season. She posed the question of whether or not the former Notre Dame standout would catch seven touchdowns in 2018, and Cronin took the over.
Rudolph's eight touchdowns from a year ago feels like the sweet spot in 2018. He has a quarterback who loves throwing to the tight end (Kirk Cousins likened throwing to Rudolph to throwing into a mattress) and an offensive coordinator champing at the bit to utilize him on third down and in the red zone. Rudolph is among six TEs to score double-digit touchdowns inside the 20-yard line during the past two seasons. Pairing Rudolph with Cousins is bound to make those figures increase, etching his way further to becoming a top 6 or 7 fantasy tight end.
Rudolph has 20 receiving touchdowns over the past three seasons, trailing only New England’s Rob Gronkowski during that time. Rudolph has 322 career catches for 3,153 yards and 37 touchdowns.