Trae Waynes has seen his role evolve in each of his first two seasons in the NFL, going from a special teams standout to a reliable piece on Minnesota's stingy defense.
Yet as the Vikings cornerback enters his third season with the Vikings, Waynes said he feels ready for a bigger role in 2017.
Waynes recently chatted with Tim Yotter of Viking Update and said his confidence is in a great spot as training camp approaches.
*The 2015 first-round pick has bided his time, learning the nuances of the game from (Vikings Head Coach) Mike Zimmer, defensive backs coach Jerry Gray and the veteran starter that has been in front of him the last two years, Trae Waynes. *
"He's been there every step of the way. I've got to give him a lot of credit to helping me get to where I am now," said Waynes, who credits Newman was teaching him "everything."
"He's been in this game for a long time so he knows it like the back of his hand. You've just got to try to learn from him as much as you can."
Yotter noted that Waynes looks primed to play a crucial part for the Vikings defense in 2017.
*If organized team activities and minicamp are any indication, Waynes is finally overtaking Newman for the starting job at left cornerback, opposite rising star Xavier Rhodes. *
*Waynes spent nearly all of the offseason practices as the starting cornerback on the left side of the defense, which could mean that the spoon-feeding of the past will turn into a full helping of defensive playing time in 2017. *
"It's great. I've just got to make the most of it," Waynes said. "I've just got to make plays and give the coaches more reason to trust me."
Waynes had 54 total tackles (according to coaches'tally) with three interceptions and a team-high 16 passes defensed last season.
Randle, Page and Millard rank among top DTs in NFL history
Opponents have long known that the heart of the Vikings defense has been patrolled by one playmaker after another.
From Alan Page to Keith Millard to John Randle, Minnesota has always seemingly had a stable of dominating defensive tackles at its disposal.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com continued a recent series by ranking his top defensive tackles of all time, and the aforementioned Vikings trio made the list.
Randle was the highest-ranked Viking at No. 9, as the Pro Football Hall of Famer wore Purple from 1990 to 2000.
An undrafted free agent out of college, Randle recorded 137.5 career sacks and made the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1990s.
Randle was a seven-time Pro Bowler and six-time First-Team All-Pro, and led the league in sacks in 1997 with 15.5.
Randle is also a member of the Vikings Ring of Honor, as is the 11th-best player on Brandt's list — defensive tackle Alan Page.
Page made history in 1971 when he became the first defensive player in league history to win the NFL MVP award.
He finished his career as a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and unofficially recorded 173 career sacks. (Sacks did not become an official stat until 1982).
Page played in 238 consecutive games, was a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1970s and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
Fellow defensive tackle Keith Millard was a mainstay on Minnesota's defensive line in the 1980s and ranked No. 24 on the list.
Millard played for the Vikings from 1985 to 1990 and was the 1989 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
He made the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1980s and made two Pro Bowls and twice earned First-Team All-Pro honors.
Millard holds the NFL record for most sacks by defensive tackle in a single season (18), and had three double-digit sack seasons on his way to compiling 58 career sacks.