EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Sharrif Floyd sincerely enjoyed playing for Dan Quinn, and the Vikings defensive tackle is also looking forward to playing against the Falcons coach.
Floyd earned collegiate All-America honors at the University of Florida with Quinn as his position coach and defensive coordinator in 2012. Although the player-coach relationship was two years in length, it remains with Floyd, who overcame significant obstacles on his way to becoming a Gator and Viking.
"Knowing him personally and having a relationship outside of football, it's an honor to play against him," Floyd said. "He's one of my favorite coaches.
"I know his style: get to the ball," Floyd added. "We're playing to keep the ball safe, and we're playing to get to the ball."
They'll reconnect at noon (CT) Sunday in Atlanta. Quinn, who is in his first season leading the Falcons, said during a conference call Wednesday that he's impressed by Floyd and Linval Joseph.
"The first thing that jumps out about Sharrif is the quickness that he has for a 300-pounder, the ability to use his feet," Quinn said. "He can jump off the ball. He has the quickness of a much lighter guy at 300 pounds. I don't know what he weighs right now, 305, 310, but he has the quickness of an undersized guy but he's not undersized. That's probably the first thing that jumps out to me. His ability to get off the ball and use his leverage. I know him well and am really pleased to see him doing so well there."
Floyd is listed at 311. He worked his way back from ankle and knee injuries the past two weeks after suffering ankle and knee injuries during a monster game against Kansas City in Week 5 that caused him to miss the final three games of the regular season.
Florida was Quinn's first opportunity to be a defensive coordinator after coaching defensive lines for the Seahawks (2009-10), Jets (2007-08), Dolphins (2005-06) and 49ers (2003-04). He became Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2013 and continued to remember evaluating Joseph, a second-round pick of the Giants in 2010 who joined the Vikings during free agency in 2014.
"Linval, I remember him all the way back from his East Carolina days and following him with the Giants," Quinn said. "I think the thing that is most impressive to me about him is his ability to push the pocket, not only is he a really good run player. He's been a factor inside, pushing the pocket. You can see that combination with him and Sharrif inside working well together. I think he's playing some of his best ball for a guy I already had a lot of respect for."
Vikings safety Harrison Smith and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan have met just once in the pros (last year's 41-28 victory by the Vikings) but have a mutual respect.
"You can tell he's a polished guy, has got a great arm, knows how to read defenses, knows how to get the ball out of his hands to his playmakers," Smith said.
Ryan said Smith "has played really well" added he was "very impressed with how much ground he covers in the backend both in the run game and in the pass game, and also how physical he is."
"I think he's done a great job for their defense," Ryan said.
Smith did not participate at Wednesday's practice because of a knee injury he suffered against Green Bay.
"At this point in the year, everybody is kind of banged up, so I'm just trying to get ready for Sunday," Smith said. "Even when you don't get hurt, [soreness] is worse on Mondays, but winning helps so we need to get back to that."
Award nomination: Linebacker Chad Greenway has been nominated for an NFL sportsmanship award for the second straight year.
Injury reports: For the Vikings: In addition to Smith, Everson Griffen (hip/shoulder) did not participate. Robert Blanton (ankle), Floyd (ankle) and Matt Kalil (toe) were limited. Eric Kendricks (ribs), Anthony Barr (hand) and Teddy Bridgewater (left shoulder) fully participated.
For the Falcons: RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) and WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) did not participate. K Matt Bryant (right quad), G Andy Levitre (knee) and S Robenson Therezie (hamstring) were limited.