MANKATO, Minn. —Trae Waynes arrived for his 15th NFL training camp on Wednesday, the most of any player on the Vikings roster.
The defensive back will turn 39 years old in September but said it was an easy decision to come back for his third season in Purple.
But as a player who has been on winning teams and losing teams, Newman has a pulse on what can get a team moving on the path to success.
The 2003 first-round pick by Dallas said he wants to see a talented Vikings team be unafraid to challenge each other during the dog days of camp.
"I think this team is close, to be honest with you," Newman said. "I think we're close to doing some great things, and obviously we've got to work and compete hard.
"I think we need to be a little bit more mean to each other. Hopefully I see that we have a couple more fights," Newman added. "That lets you know that everyone is really working and guys are getting personal and whatnot."
Vikings safety Harrison Smith agreed with Newman's notion, adding that the increase in competition doesn't mean there needs to be discord or friction within the locker room.
Minnesota started 5-0 in 2016 before ending the season with an 8-8 record.
"I think that's a good point. We have such a good group of guys and such a close-knit group that sometimes we're not as mean to each other as we should be — in a positive way," Smith said. "I think that's what he's getting at there, and he has more experience than any of us of seeing what types of mentalities and interactions work best with teams. I think he probably brings up a good point."
"We're around each other all day," Smith said. "Being around each other and staying competitive with what we're doing will carry over to game day."
Sleep Number envy
Newman and Smith arrived on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato Wednesday afternoon and checked into their dorm rooms.
The pair are the only players who were issued Sleep Number beds, which drew the satirical ire of tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Rudolph said he was puzzled when Newman was excited to show him his bed.
"We have queen mattresses, so I was wondering what he was all excited about," Rudolph said. "In his room, he has a Sleep Number bed and a hotel comforter and a remote for his bed.
"I asked him how he got that, and he wouldn't tell me, so I just figured that must be the old folks home of the upstairs," Rudolph added.
Rudolph is suitemates with Smith, who also received the luxurious sleeping arrangement.
The two-time Pro Bowl safety quipped that he expect his comfortable bed to help his play on the field.
"I'm pretty excited about getting some solid rest here and really hoping that increases performance on the field as well," said Smith, who noted he wasn't sure how the beds were allocated. "I don't know if there's an age requirement. I know Terence has one, too, so I'm pretty sure he qualifies, just off age numbers. I'm not the best sleeper. I sleep on the sofa a lot, so I think it will be good for my performance."
Time to bond
Nick Easton has been around the block a time or two and is entering his 13th NFL training camp and sixth with Minnesota.
With the organization slated for one last camp in Mankato, the veteran offensive lineman was asked if he would miss anything about it.
Berger said he'll gladly pass on the dorm rooms and food options, but noted that the togetherness of a team during camp is something to be valued.
"I'll have to get back to you on that question," Berger said with a smile. "But the thing about training camp is that it's a great time to just bond with your teammates.
"I think about the guys I had the opportunity to play with over the years, and that's what you miss," Berger added. "I think what you really miss is the time you spend with the guys, kind of uninterrupted. I've gotten to bond with some pretty impressive players over the years."
Berger lined up at right guard with the first-team offense during spring practices. He has played both guard spots and center in his time in Minnesota.
With less than 200 days remaining until Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium, every NFL team has their eye on the big prize as training camps get underway throughout the country.
Rudolph said he has heard the chatter about the Vikings playing in their own stadium with a title on the line, but added that he expectation is to make it to the Super Bowl no matter where it's being played.
"I have super-high expectations for our team this year, but I think that's everyone's expectation every year," Rudolph said. "If you start the season without the expectation to win a championship, then you're cutting yourself short.
"We want to be champions and the first Vikings team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in our home stadium," Rudolph added. "A lot of times we get asked if we want to play in our own stadium and of course we do, but that's our expectation every year."
Rudolph was near the top in almost all major statistical categories at his positon, as he finished third among all tight ends with 83 catches, tied for third with seven touchdown catches and was fourth with 840 receiving yards.