Defensive end Corey Wootton has been on both sides of the Vikings-Bears rivalry. The fifth-year pro is preparing to face the team he played for the previous four seasons for the second time this season when Minnesota (6-9) hosts Chicago (5-10) at noon (CT) Sunday.
Wootton took a Timeout this week with Vikings.com.
Question: What was it like to play your former team earlier this season and what do you expect this time around?
Wootton:It was good to be back there at Soldier Field. Playing there for four years, I had a lot of memories, but it's kind of long forgotten now, with coming up on the last week of the season. This is another game, and I'll see some of my former teammates and friends after.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in the rematch?
Wootton:Just getting the win. Last time, they beat us, and we definitely want to try to win, especially in the division and finish out the season right.
Q: Your first career sack was in the 2010 Bears-Vikings game at TCF Bank Stadium against Brett Favre on what was his final play. What do you remember from that?
Wootton:Oh, man, it seems like it was so long ago, a blur. I just remember getting the sack and being excited about it. It was a great game for (the Bears).
Q: Do you have a photo of the play?
Wootton:Yeah, I have a photo, and my parents have one. It's definitely good to get your first sack against a (potential) Hall of Famer like that.
Q: What do you think about your year in the rotation on the defensive line?
Wootton:It's been going OK. The biggest thing is when you go into a new scheme, you've got to learn and adjust. I think we've done a pretty good job on the run, learning different things and tendencies, but defensively we can finish this last game strong and put ourselves in a good position for the final rankings.
Q: How much was different from your time with the Bears?
Wootton:It's definitely different. Here, it's a lot more squeezing down blocks, kind of eating up blocks, and with the Bears, it was getting off the ball and penetrating.
Q: You set the school record at Northwestern with 49 starts, what was your time there like?
Wootton:I had a great time there, being in the suburbs of Chicago and being close to the lake was great. I got a chance to get a great degree there and meet some lifelong friends that I still keep in touch with, the best man at my wedding, groomsmen, so it was a great experience.
Q: You had multiple majors there?
Wootton:I double-majored. I almost got the triple-major. I was a double major in African-American studies and communications.
Q: How did you balance between double-majoring and football responsibilities?
Wootton:After my freshman year, I kind of learned time management. That was the biggest thing, and when you have to get things done. Getting your school work done, and going to practice, making sure you get your papers done.
Q: Northwestern doesn't really have a reputation as a pushover school.
Wootton:No, not at all. I had a great experience there. It definitely challenged me, and I was fortunate enough to take some really good classes.
Q: Does the past experience of your wife (Felicia Chester-Wootton) as a pro basketball player help her understand the time commitments you have because of football?
Wootton:Oh, definitely, that was a big thing, because I dated people in the past that didn't really understand when it comes to sports, and she got it. She was living proof. When we met, we were both in college and playing sports, so it worked out perfectly.
Q: Do you guys still play a little bit of basketball?
Wootton:No, not anymore. I stay away from basketball. Football is what I get paid for, and you hear about people getting injured playing basketball, and that's the last thing I want to do.
Q: I'd imagine those games were pretty competitive.
Wootton:Yeah, exactly. We played one time in college, and it didn't end so well. She got a little mad at me.
Q: You and Justin Trattou were high school teammates in New Jersey. What's it been like to reunite in Minnesota?
Wootton:It was crazy. You hear about some people going to the same college and playing in the pros, like Justin and Sharrif Floyd both played at Florida, but being at the same high school and the same pro team, I would imagine there's not many people that have done that, and to say I've played with one of my high school teammates is pretty crazy. He had a great career in high school and at Florida and is doing great now. It's good to see him and how much he's changed and matured and gotten better as a football player.
Q: Any offseason plans?
Wootton:We're going to go to the Caribbean for a few days, relax, and probably go to Florida for some warm weather.