Former UCLA teammates Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are entering their fourth season together as Vikings, and their effectiveness has been instrumental for Minnesota's defense.
The Vikings drafted Ben Gedeon last season to join the Barr-Kendricks duo, and Minnesota also found a diamond in the rough in undrafted rookie Eric Wilson, who has been a significant contributor on special teams.
Barr, Kendricks and Gedeon played a big part in the Vikings defense that finished No. 1 overall in 2017. Kendricks led the team in tackles with 136 (coaches' tally).
NFL.com's Chris Wesseling recently took a look at teams' linebacker units and ranked the top 10, placing the Vikings at No. 6. He wrote:
While Barr has been honored with three consecutive Pro Bowl selections, it's leading tackler Kendricks who is the heartbeat of [Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer's defense. Limited to early downs as a fourth-round rookie last season, Gedeon showed promise against the run. This is one of the few defenses that can feature high-octane units at every level, from the defensive line to the secondary.
Coming in ahead of the Vikings on Wesseling's list were – in order from the top – the Broncos, Bears, Panthers, Seahawks and Texans. Rounding out the rankings were the Ravens, Jaguars, Redskins and Browns.
Compton, Cousins pick up where they left off in Washington
When Kirk Cousins and Tom Compton met as teammates in Washington, the two became fast friends.
Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune recently spoke to the quarterback and guard who have reunited in the Vikings locker room and asked them about their camaraderie. In addition to sharing a connection to the Midwest, Cousins and Compton also discovered a similar taste in entertainment.
"It stood out pretty quickly. You throw in a random '[The] Office' or 'Heavyweights' quote, and the other guy picked it up, and you know you're in good company," Compton told Goessling. "Even just quoting random commercials from growing up, and them knowing the other part of it, you're like, 'That's my guy right there.' "
Goessling explained that Compton filled the cameo role intended for Cousins in Sharknado 3 and traveled to Nashville after the 2016 season "to play drums while Cousins recorded vocals with Midnight Pilot, his high school buddy Kyle Schonewill's band."
Compton has worked with the first team at left guard and is in line to make his second consecutive opening day start after playing for Chicago in 2017.
Now, the role Compton will play with the Vikings could be one of the keys to Cousins' season.
When the preseason began, the Vikings found plenty of running room behind Compton and Riley Reiff on the left side, and they will look to sustain those results over four quarters Sunday, while Compton, [Brett] Jones and [Mike] Remmers try to stabilize the middle of the line.
"Any time you've got a guy who's played in the Super Bowl [with Atlanta], played six years, been in different schemes, he quote-unquote gets it," Cousins told Goessling of Compton. "He knows what it should look like, and he knows what it takes. He's gone against some really good pass rushers. I like someone who's been in the fire before, and isn't figuring it out as they go, but at least knows what they can do and knows the challenge that it is.
Rudolph 'lights up' for family announcement
Kyle Rudolph is prepping for the 2018 Vikings season.
But before he kicks off his eighth season in Purple, Rudolph celebrated a personal announcement with a different color.
U.S. Bank Stadium was lit blue Thursday night to help Kyle and his wife, Jordan, officially announce that they are expecting a baby boy in January. The newest addition will join big sisters Andersyn and Finley, who will turn 2 in October.