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Lunchbreak: Pro Football Focus Recognizes Jumps by Bynum & Metellus

EAGAN, Minn. – Pro Football Focus named two Vikings players to a pair of unique lists following their breakout 2023 campaigns.

Safeties Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus thrived under Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores and both are being recognized by Pro Football Focus for their impactful seasons.

Bynum led the league in tackles by a safety, blossoming in Flores' diverse scheme. PFF named Bynum the Vikings most improved player after his defensive grade jumped from 58.2 last season to 73.2 in 2023. He finished with the 15th best PFF grade among 74 qualified safeties.

On Bynum, PFF wrote:

Although Bynum flashed ability as a role player in 2021, he failed to replicate that performance as a starter in 2022. However, 2023 was his year. He played more than 1,100 snaps for the Vikings defense in 2023 and ranked as the fourth-highest-graded safety in the NFL over the first 14 weeks before tailing off toward the end of the year.

Flores' system deployed at least three safeties nearly every- down. Bynum, Metellus, and fellow safety Harrison Smith all finished top three in defensive snaps played for the Vikings. No safety across the NFL, however, played more overall snaps than Metellus this season.

Metellus was a true ironman under Flores and Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels. He finished third on the Vikings in defensive snaps played with 1,065 (94 percent of defensive snaps) and played an additional 194 special teams snaps. That total of 1,224 led all NFL players.

For that and several other reasons, PFF named Metellus the Vikings “secret superstar.”

Sometimes, all a player needs is a fresh system to awaken them. Flores' arrival awakened something this year, and the Vikings defense was an impressive unit that consistently got after offenses.

Metellus had a big part to play in that revival in his fourth season. No other safety registered more than his 29 pressures, and Metellus proved to be a constant force in the backfield as a blitzer. He shone through in all aspects of the game too, earning more defensive stops (45) than any other safety. He's a force to be reckoned with.

View the best photos of Vikings safeties Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, Josh Metellus, Jay Ward, Theo Jackson, and Lewis Cine during the 2023 season.

Kirk Cousins Helps Students Earn Extra Credit

A chance encounter with two students at a Division III college in Michigan resulted in Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins stopping by a Sports Communication Class for a group photo.

Cousins, who has returned to Michigan for the offseason, was rehabbing at Hope College when students Hannah Pearce and Breck McCloskey spotted him working with athletic trainers inside Hope College's on-campus athletic facility.

ESPN writer Kalan Hooks detailed the recent encounter:

Pearce and McCloskey were curious about a chance meeting with the NFL quarterback. As the duo headed to their sports communications class, the encounter remained on their minds.

When they walked into the class, they told their professor Patrick Gentile that they believed they had seen Cousins on campus. Gentile offered extra credit to the two with a catch. They'd have to relocate him and provide proof.

The two junior students set out to find Cousins and secure their extra credit. Cousins was still on campus, sitting in his car and did not hesitate to help the students earn their extra credit when he was made aware of professor Gentile's offer.

When the quarterback entered the classroom, students instantly showered Cousins with questions about his Achilles tendon recovery timeline. They even heard his take on the NFC championship between the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Although Gentile said it was the highlight of his teaching career, he didn't want to keep Cousins away from his training schedule.

Click here to read about the full encounter with Cousins