Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman isn't one to make too much noise in free agency each year. He does, however, make his signings count when he reaches into the free agent market.
The Star Tribune's Jim Souhan touched on Minnesota's **track record with free agent signings** and two of the most recent acquisitions, guard Alex Boone and tackle Andre Smith. Souhan said signing veteran players from other teams is often a risk, but Spielman and the Vikings have a knack for bringing in the right types of players. Souhan wrote:
Captain Munneryln and Terence Newman arrived as veteran free agents, and rank as two of the best personalities and most savvy players in the Vikings locker room.
Joe Berger and Linval Joseph arrived as veteran free agents and became important players and admired professionals.
The Vikings signed Boone and Smith this offseason to bolster the offensive line. Souhan identified Boone as an immediate starter who has "one of the bigger personalities in the organization." Souhan also is positive about Smith, whose first five pro seasons overlapped with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's time in Cincinnati, joining the roster.
Smith is not guaranteed a starting job, but he may win one, and the first impression upon meeting him is that he is another likable professional who could prove to be a free-agent steal.
Smith said he talked to Newman, who played for Zimmer with the Cowboys and Bengals, to get a feel for the Vikings. Newman confirmed what Smith thought – Minnesota was where he wanted to be.
"I have a relationship with Zim'," Smith told Souhan. "Great team. Great organization. The locker room, there's a lot of camaraderie. I knew a couple of guys here, and I wanted to go somewhere I had a chance to win. Minnesota's on the rise."
Jarius Wright embracing leadership role in 2016
At 27 years old, Jarius Wright is entering his fifth NFL season with Minnesota.
While Wright isn't the oldest player on the roster, he is the second-oldest (nine months behind Charles Johnson) of a young wide receiver corps. With so many young receivers – including 2015 draft pick Stefon Diggs and 2016 selections Laquon Treadwell and Moritz Böhringer – Wright told Eric Oslund of Viking Update that he is **embracing a leadership role** headed into a new season.
"Instead of just being more of an example leader, and leading by example, I've had to talk to them and be more vocal this year," Wright told Oslund. "It kind of feels good (being the old guy). Not against anything or anybody else, just getting a chance to be able to share my knowledge with the younger guys."
Wright has been very impressed with all the young receivers so far through the organized team activities this offseason because they are all hard-working and all have a desire to learn. He said that they all listen to anything that he has to say and try to translate the advice he gives them out onto the field.
John Sullivan changing eating habits
After missing all of the 2015 season due to injury, center John Sullivan is back on the field and prepping for the 2016 season – and he's slimmed down.
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press spoke to Sullivan about **dropping weight this offseason**. Tomasson wrote:
Sullivan, 30, figured losing weight would reduce strain on his back. So he has delved into a high-protein diet and is following a training program developed by the Vikings' first-year strength and conditioning coach, Brent Salazar.
"I'm cognizant of what I eat at all times," Sullivan told Tomasson. "I don't have cheat meals. … Just working out with Brent and his program is excellent. He does a really good job of focusing on muscle activation. … I feel like I'm moving well when I get on the field. I don't even think about my injuries from a year ago, so I'm really feeling good."
Prior to suffering the back injury last August, Sullivan had played 109 of 112 possible games in his first seven NFL seasons. He said he's feeling healthy, in-shape and back to his durable self.
"My thought process (coming back was) why not just reduce the load a little bit, and make it easier to stay healthy," Sullivan said.