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Lunchbreak: Vikings Defense Faces Stern Test in Luck

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is a former No. 1 overall pick and is regarded as one of the top all-around players in the NFL.

The Vikings defense ranks atop the NFL in multiple categories, including allowing the fewest points per game (17.3), meaning Sunday's matchup should be must-see television.

John Holler of Viking Update chatted with members of Minnesota's defense about what they're expecting Sunday against Luck.

Holler wrote:

*Luck has enjoyed his share of success because he does a lot of things well, whether it's calling an audible at the line, taking deep shots downfield, throwing the safe pass when coverage is good or mixing in the run to keep defenses honest. *

"He's very smart," defensive tackle Shamar Stephen said. "He knows all his checks. He's knows how to read defenses quickly and find the open receiver. He's got a great running back (Frank Gore) behind him, so he can mix things up."

*The frustrating part about Luck is his willingness to stand tall in the pocket when it is collapsing around him and holding the ball a little longer than most quarterbacks. *

*There isn't a panic button in his head that is often seen in quarterbacks when pressure is bearing down on him. Instead, Luck has perfected sliding his feet and moving in small areas to keep plays alive and potentially have a coverage breakdown that can lead to a big play. *

"He buys himself time in the pocket," Stephen said. "He isn't a scrambler like some quarterbacks, but when he does scramble, he can make some nice gains. He's a great athlete who can throw the ball as well as any quarterback in the league."

Patterson behind success of Vikings D-line

Minnesota's defensive line has crafted itself into one of the league's best units.

Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson has had a big hand in that, as writer Ben Goessling chronicled his impact in a recent feature.

Patterson was with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer at two different college and with the Dallas Cowboys in the early 2000s before the two linked up again in Minnesota.

Goessling wrote:

No defensive line in the NFL this season has been as adept at sacking quarterbacks as the Vikings' group, which has 30.5 of the team's 35 sacks. Hunter is fifth in the league with 10.5 sacks (in only 472 snaps), Everson Griffen has 8.0 and Brian Robison is two off his career high at age 33 with 7.0.

That the Vikings have three talented and studious pass-rushers is a significant key to the group's success, as Patterson is quick to point out. But so is Patterson's tutelage, which has molded the Vikings' pass-rushers in a way that runs counter to the approach taught by many coaches around the league.

"Most coaches try to tell you, 'Use loops. Flip your hips. Try to use the space to your advantage; try to get wide to make your offensive lineman come out and get you,'" defensive tackle Tom Johnson said. "He actually teaches the exact opposite of what you've been told to do a lot -- which, in film, if you watch us do it, it looks a lot quicker. You eliminate those [extra] steps. He tells us to go attack the man where you want to be at instead of trying to go around him."

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