EAGAN, Minn. — Back to football means back to Cincinnati — AGAIN — for Nick Vigil.
For the second consecutive year, the former Bengals linebacker will return to Paul Brown Stadium as a member of another team.
Last year it was in his first season as a Los Angeles Charger. He recorded five tackles and recovered a fumble against the Bengals squad that drafted him in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
This time, it will be for his first regular-season game with the Vikings.
And, his purple helmet with white horns will include a green dot sticker, designating it as one equipped with a communications device that will allow him to hear calls from the sideline and relay them to teammates. Anthony Barr, who has generally manned the role in Minnesota since 2014, was ruled out for Sunday's noon (CT) contest.
"I'm excited just to get in that game atmosphere, get the season underway and, yeah, going back to Cincy will be fun," Vigil said Friday. "I actually opened up there last year with the Chargers. So this will be the second time, first time with fans, so it'll be cool. I'm excited."
Interestingly, in Vigil's four seasons with Cincinnati, the Bengals opened a season at home just once (2017).
While Vigil is new to Minnesota, he's far from a novice in the defense, or from wearing a green dot. He mentioned he handled the duties "for two or three years in Cincinnati" but not with the Chargers.
"We ran this defense in Cincinnati my first couple years, so I was pretty familiar but just a little rusty," Vigil said. "It took a little time to get it down again, but as time goes on, the more reps you get and the more comfortable you get in the system, so I feel pretty comfortable now."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was the Bengals defensive coordinator from 2008-13 before his hire by Minnesota in 2014. He was replaced by Paul Guenther, who joined Minnesota's coaching staff as a senior defensive assistant this offseason.
Guenther was defensive coordinator for the Bengals from 2014-17 before holding the same role with the Raiders in the past three seasons. He vouched for Vigil during free agency.
View photos of Vikings players from practice on Sept. 9 at the TCO Performance Center.
Zimmer said the linebacker has "done a really nice job" and has handled changes that have been made since Vigil began playing in the system.
"When Paul took over after me there was the same terminology and things like that, so very similar in that way. Typically when you move from team to team — obviously they've changed in eight years — there's some things that still maintain the same terminology," Zimmer said. "Usually when you move from team to team the terminology's the biggest hurdle. The concepts are typically the same. It's just how you call it or say it or define it."
Zimmer said he told someone the other day that Vigil reminds him of Chad Greenway, who played for the Vikings from 2006-16, overlapping with Zimmer's first three seasons in Minnesota.
"[Vigil is] very smart and conscientious about everything that he does," Zimmer said. "He's caught on fast and played well in the preseason. We all have to make sure that we tackle good and be good communicators. They give you a lot of formations and movements and things like that."
Vigil hasn't been able to connect with Greenway yet but said, "I know what kind of player he was."
"He played in this league for a long time, and he was a very good player, so that's a heck of a compliment, and hopefully I can play well and live up to that," Vigil said.