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Mackensie Alexander Focused on 'Big Picture' in Return to Purple

EAGAN, Minn. – After a year away, Mackensie Alexander is back where it all started.

The 2016 second-round draft pick signed Monday with the Vikings, with whom he spent the first four seasons of his career.

Alexander played the 2020 campaign with Cincinnati before returning to Minnesota, where he has played 55 games (10 starts), totaling 4.5 sacks and two interceptions.

The 27-year-old told Twin Cities media members he's "excited to be back" in Purple.

"Shout-out to my agents for getting it done, and the Vikings staff, having the relationship to get it done and being back," Alexander said Monday via videoconference. "I think we're all looking at the big puzzle, the big piece and getting this thing done as a unit."

It's only been 12 months since Alexander last set foot in the locker room at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, but plenty has changed within the Vikings locker room, from coaching on down. Minnesota's defensive backs will be led in 2021 by former Alabama cornerbacks coach Karl Scott, and the cornerbacks group is one ripe with youngsters … plus three-time All-Pro Patrick Peterson, who recently signed as a free agent.

Alexander will add an additional veteran presence to a less-experienced room, but he reminded that Peterson and All-Pro safety Harrison Smith provide plenty of influence.

"We've got, in my opinion, two future Hall of Famers already in the secondary," Alexander said of Peterson and Smith. "Me being there is just a little bit of a bonus, but with those two guys, it's going to help out tremendously.

"I think for me, just bringing energy and excitement and just bringing maturity … to allow us as a unit to be better, compete and have a good time," Alexander added. "Take care of business as a unit and get things back where they need to be."

View photos of CB Mackensie Alexander signing his contract at TCO Performance Center.

Alexander is looking forward to being teammates with Peterson. Although the two have never played together, the younger corner has admired Peterson's game from afar.

"I followed a lot of his game. I watched him in high school, watched him in college and watched him in the pros," Alexander said. "That's definitely a guy I can sit next to and pick his brain about some things and have some conversations with him about it. That's going to be fun to have him around, for sure."

In the five years since Minnesota drafted Alexander, he's experienced personal and professional growth.

It's no secret that Alexander, who primarily played outside corner in his time at Clemson, initially balked at a transition to nickel at the pro level. But he eventually came to embrace the position and saw plenty of success in the slot for Minnesota.

The Vikings last spring drafted Jeff Gladney out of TCU, and the rookie primarily played inside during the 2020 season.

Alexander was asked what he expects his role to be this time around, and he once again emphasized the "big picture" in mind.

"Wherever they want me to play, I'm a team guy," he said. "We're going to compete as a unit, and we're going to see where it all falls. It doesn't matter to me."

View photos of Vikings CB Mackensie Alexander who is back in purple after spending time on the Bengals in 2020.

Alexander is no stranger to the tough-love style of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, and he's not only ready to be back under that tutelage – he's excited.

"Man, of course [I missed Zimmer]. You want to be [coached hard]," he said. "I miss it, of course. It's why I'm back. You want to be coached like that, somebody who's going to stay on you, and that's why when I was here [before], it was what it was as far as defensively and stuff like that. Being back, it's going to be fun.

"We've got all the pieces of the puzzle here, so I feel like me being here adds value to that for sure," he later added.