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Lunchbreak: Joseph Happy to Have ‘My Guy’ Shamar Stephen Back

Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen spent four seasons in Minnesota and just one (2018) in Seattle before returning to the Vikings for the upcoming campaign.

Linval Joseph spoke with Twin Cities media members on Wednesday and was asked about Shamar being back in Purple.

“Shamar is my guy,” Joseph said. “[After four seasons with us], last year he’s with Seattle. [He’s] coming back and bringing back that presence. He’s another guy who loves to coach, too. He will help all the young guys to be as good as him because we need each other.”

SKOR North’s Matthew Coller wrote about the teammates who are once again sharing a locker room:

At Wednesday’s Organized Team Activities workout at TCO Performance Center, nobody had a bigger smile talking to the media than Pro Bowl nose tackle Linval Joseph.

[…]

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Joseph would be happy to see Stephen back considering the Vikings defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL in yards and points against when he played around 40 percent of total snaps. Joseph also rated as the NFL’s sixth best defensive tackle in ’17 by Pro Football Focus.

Coller pointed out that the Vikings did lose 3-technique Sheldon Richardson to free agency but that Joseph said “Stephen’s return solidifies the team’s run defense.”

“Shamar is a good guy against the run,” Joseph said. “He does a lot of things that don’t really get credit. He’s a big part of this team. … We got far when Shamar was here, last year we took a step back because we didn’t have Shamar. Having him back, leadership, him being in the room, his effort every day, we’re a better team.”

The MMQB assembles NFL ‘All-Small Team,’ includes 1 Viking

Is it a little silly? Yes.

But this not-quite-5-foot writer couldn’t resist highlighting The MMQB’s recent project, “The NFL’s All-Small Team,” which features one Viking.

Andy Benoit looked across the league and constructed a roster of players “smaller than the average height and weight at their position” who are consistently put up sizeable numbers.

Vikings fans will see a familiar name in the linebacker group: Eric Kendricks, who is listed at 6-feet, 232 pounds. The 27-year-old may be a little shorter than most NFL linebackers, but he’s led the team in tackles every year since Minnesota drafted him in 2015. Kendricks was joined by Atlanta’s Deion Jones (6-1, 227), San Francisco’s Kwon Alexander (6-1, 227) and Carolina’s Shaq Thompson (6-3, 230). Benoit wrote:

Small linebackers must be kept clean from blockers, which is difficult when the defensive tackles are also small. Most likely, on early downs, this team will gamble and blitz often, hoping to make offenses play on OUR schedule and at OUR speed. Blitzing requires man coverage. And yes, the ’backers are often part of the blitzes, but having some who can also cover makes us that much more diverse. Jones and Thompson for sure can cover. The Falcons put a lot of burden on Jones to handle running backs on his own in man-to-man.

As for Thompson … the Panthers have been known to play base 4-3 personnel against three-receiver sets, treating Thompson essentially as a slot corner. That’s extremely unusual, and it should be noted Thompson’s slot snaps come mostly in zone coverage. We’d want him to match to tight ends in man. Alexander and Kendricks are both middle linebackers, which works well because Jones plays the weak side and Thompson can play the strong side.

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