Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman
I'd like to recognize the city of Mankato, their community leaders and all their community groups that put on these events in Mankato over the years. I'd especially want to thank the university itself. In my opinion this is one of the most prestigious universities in our state and to recognize Dr. [Richard] Davenport, Rick Straka, Shirley [Piepho] and people who probably go above and beyond the call of duty to make this, which has been such a great success and why the partnership has lasted as long as it has. We are excited, next year, heading into our state-of-the-art TCO Performance Center building. I think that shows you the commitment the Wilf's have in making this a world class organization. With that being said, I know Mankato will always be our home away from home. Getting on to the football side a little bit, it's always exciting to get down here and get going. Our coaches, our personnel staff have put in countless hours, a lot of hard work and effort to get this roster together for the 2017 season. I'm very optimistic about what we were able to see from the OTAs, the minicamps and the whole offseason program. I look forward to continuing that momentum as we head down to hitting here in training camp as we get ready to put the pads on. Coach [Mike] Zimmer I can't recognize enough for the tweaks he has made this offseason in a variety of areas that I think are going to pay huge dividends for us. One thing that's definitely showed up this week is he decided to bring the young guys and selected vets down early for them to get an opportunity to come down here, get settled in, get extra reps and the extra practices that we haven't done in the past. I think that will pay huge dividends because a lot of these young guys are going to be counted on to carve out some significant roles on our offense, defense and special teams. We are excited to get Everson Griffen done. We got that extension done and finalized this morning. I'd like to thank Brian Murphy, Athletes First and Rob Brzezinski, who always does an outstanding job. They work through this to get this finalized. We'll continue to work and monitor potential other extensions as we go forward. But, we're excited and ready to get out there on the field and get ready for the 2017 season.
Q: Why re-sign Everson Griffen now, with two years remaining?
A: I think what we are doing is, you are looking at players who are the core players. As we always have, we have not only cap-planned for this year, but for future years. I know we have some significant contracts and significant young players coming up, so to get, I wouldn't say ahead of the curve, but to get some of this out of the way now, it is going to give a lot more flexibility as we go forward into next year and future years because I do think we have some very talented, young players and we want to keep this core group of young players together as long as we can.
Q: Are you trying to spread out the money going forward?
A: Well what we are going to focus and hone-in on trying to keep as many as these core young guys together as possible. So, we'll be looking at potentially, if we are able to work it out and getting some done this year, some extensions and also know we have a lot of work ahead of us, coming down here in the future with a couple of these young guys.
Q: Do you expect Xavier Rhodes to be next for an extension?
A: Well, I'll anticipate and let you know if that comes true or not. But I'll just say we're working on extensions on a few guys.
Q: There is pressure with every season, but do you sense more urgency now considering what happened last year?
A: No, I think, you know hopefully we don't have to go through all the adversities we had to go through last year. You know, I think we have a very good, young football team. I think we have an outstanding coaching staff; I think with the leadership of Coach Zimmer that we do have high expectations, but you do every year coming into this. You can't predict some of the adversities that we had to face last year. But I think, with what we're able to accomplish this offseason, I think we have some very talented young players that we were able to get from the draft. They are going to have to go through some growing pains, that is why it was a great idea to get them down here early; to get that extra time with them because we are going to have to count on those guys. But everybody, we have high expectations internally for ourselves.
Q: You're going to have to make big decisions on your quarterbacks at some point. How much are you looking forward to getting something accomplished down the field so that you can really make those calls?
A: Well, those calls will come in time, I think we are very fortunate to have two quarterbacks like that on our roster. You know, I know what Sam [Bradford] did was unbelievable for the circumstances, he came in last year and he's had a great offseason. I know Teddy [Bridgewater] and what he means to this organization and how hard he has worked in his rehab to get back on the field as quickly as he can. So, I'd rather face those type of questions or issues as we move forward and it'll play itself out, I'm sure.
Q: How much has Teddy progressed since we last saw the minicamp and do you expect him to start tomorrow on the PUP list?
A: Well, I know they are going over there to see. We haven't gotten the physical stuff done or talked to Eric Sugarman on where everybody is at. I know we had the list come out after the physicals on Sunday when everyone came in. So we'll probably have a list determined later today or first thing tomorrow morning.
Q: Is he continuing to show really good progress?
A: Yeah, well we haven't been able to see him since he left. But I know we are looking forward and I know our doctors are looking forward to seeing him. I know he got a positive report from his surgeon and we'll just see where he is at then try and get him on the field when he's ready to go.
Q: What are your concerns and what has to happen in order for this optimism to be real?
A: I know where our defensive is. I know we have a lot of new pieces on the offense. And I think the key thing is you know, with Pat Shurmur having a full season now, a full offseason. We have a lot of new faces that are going to have to come and gel together. You can see that coming together through the offseason program and through OTAs and minicamps. And that is going to have to continue when we get down here. And that is why we are down here for training camp and the preseason is to get all of these guys. I think we have some talented players on the offensive side. And just like anything, it's going to be the first time a lot of these guys are going to be playing together but hopefully, we can keep them together and not lose as many guys as we did last year on offense and they can gel together and move forward. But, I know we're looking forward to seeing these guys work together as one unit and growing together and coming together.
Q: Does the cap going up give you guys incentive to re-sign some of your young players a little earlier?
A: Well, it's always been our philosophy on our young guys, we've been pretty aggressive trying to get those guys locked in. A lot of it is hand-in-hand on being able to draft players that come in but also, the coaching staff that we have and how they develop. To see how Harrison Smith has improved, how Everson, how Xavier Rhodes, they do an incredible job developing these young guys as they come in. Personally, you don't want to spend all that time and energy trying to draft the right guys and then have your coaches develop them and then four years later you lose them. Our philosophy has always been try to draft well and develop those guys and keep those guys together. Because if you can keep that nucleus together, I think it gives you an opportunity to compete and win every year.
Q: Are you comfortable with your depth at tackle this year?
A: Just like Rashod Hill and what he showed when he came in. We signed him late in the season and how he played in that last game against Chicago and how he progressed. Willie Beavers has been bouncing around playing some tackle. Jeremiah Sirles can go out there and play on the right side. There's a lot of moving parts. We have a couple young guys that I don't want to mention just so I don't alert anyone to them that we've been kind of impressed with, some young rookies that have come in as well on the offensive line. We'll always continue to monitor that. You kind of have an idea, I sat with Coach Zimmer yesterday and already started to look at what the potential 53 could look like, what the potential practice squad could look like. But, there's so much that needs to be answered because we haven't been in pads yet. But we'll also monitor as we go through this if there are needs that pop up and potential needs that pop up, then we'll try to address those needs. A lot of times you're not going to be able to address those needs until the final cut down too. So, we have a plan in place on how we'll evaluate, look at other team's strengths and weaknesses at all positions. So if that does come up for us we'll have an idea of where to go and who to look for. It's always been a long night on that 53-man cut down and it's great that we get to keep 90 through training camp but I tell you, that's going to be close to 1,200 names coming off that night so we'll be pretty busy when we're going through that wire at the 53-man cut down.
Q: Have you finalized logistics for the London trip?
A: I think we're working through that and I think that will be announced once everything is totally finalized. Right now we're kind of worried about what we're going to do tomorrow. We have a lot of plans in place already, but we'll wait until we make an official announcement on that.
Q: What will you miss most about having training camp in Mankato?
A: I think the comradery that we're together as one. For me to go at nine o'clock or ten o'clock after the meetings and sit with Coach Zimmer, or to spend time with the scouting staff, or to sit there and be with the coaches, I think that was the whole key of training camp, that you can get together and do it in one place. I think the biggest thing I'll miss the most out of that, besides everything that this University does to make it a home for us, is the total comradery between everyone eating together, sleeping together, waking up together, and meeting together, it's pretty unique.
Q: Is there any concern that Teddy Bridgewater getting healthy could become a distraction?
A: I don't believe so. The external distractions are what they are, but internally I think everybody is on the same page and everybody wants to come together as one group. I think that's a lot due to the leadership that Coach Zimmer brings to this football team, to make sure that everything stays on task.
Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford
Q: What does it feel like to get a training camp with this team unlike last year?
A: This is exciting. This is the first time that I have been on a team that goes away for training camp. Every other team I have been on we have done it at our facility. It's a little bit different coming down here and walking into a dorm room for the first time since college. But I thought it was really cool to pull in and see all of our fans out there today. I think that's special and it speaks to how good our fans are and seeing that gets you fired up to get going.
Q: What are you trying to get out of this training camp?
A: There's a lot. I think we all know we have a lot of work in front of us and I think we had a good spring and it's time to build on that. Communication will be a key part of these next few weeks making sure we are speaking the same language, seeing things the same way, making sure we are on the same page, and building chemistry with all of the skill guys. I think a lot of it is communication whether it is in protection with the line, route running with the wide receivers, or protection with the backs. Just making sure that when we call a play and step up to the line that we all know our assignment and expect each other to do the right thing and the same thing.
*Q: Everson Griffen signed an extension and Xavier Rhodes might get one, do you see any chance that can happen to you before the season or are you definitely going to play out the season and become a free agent? *
A: There really hasn't been anything that has changed since we talked about it in the spring and that's really not my focus right now. My focus is to come in and get better and prepare myself for the season. If something changes then I would look at it but at this time it's really not on my radar.
Q: There is a lot at stake for you and for the club because of the way things went down last year. Do you sense any urgency?
A: I went through this my last year in Philadelphia and I think you still try to approach it the same way you would any other season. In this league you have to come in day in and day out proving your worth. Like I said, my goal is to come in each day and get better, be a good teammate and be a good leader. I think if I do that things will take care of themselves.
Q: After the way things went with Pat Shurmur taking over midseason and now you have had the entire offseason to get on the same page as everyone offensively, what the biggest difference or goal you are trying to accomplish?
A: I think this goes back to what I was saying earlier that when Pat Shurmur puts things in and we go to install meetings that we are able to take it out and apply it on the field. I think going through the spring we were trying to find new things that we could add to the playbook and maybe somethings we didn't have last year. These next couple weeks will still be some of that but a lot of it will be once we find our identity will be fine tuning that and being as sharp as we can.
Q: What are some of the bigger differences between Norv Turner's offense and Pat Shurmur's offense?
A: A lot of it is just the way it is called. The verbiage in the huddle and the way things were named or numbered with Norv Turner. I think you probably saw last year we got away from some of the seven-step drop stuff from under center and went to a more quick game. Pat Shurmur is based in the west coast but obviously has some influence with what we did in Philadelphia. It's kind of his own offense but I think hopefully this year we can be a little more balanced with the some of the quick game, deeper shots down field, maybe incorporate some more play action so it's not quite as much quick game as it was last year.
Q: When you were on a team that had such extremes like 5-0 and 3-8, what are your expectations coming in?
A: I think everything is in front of us right now and we have an opportunity to be a great team. Like I just said, we have a lot of work to do and I think we had a good spring and laid the foundation there and we need to look to build on that. If you look at the way we started last year and the way we played last year it shows that we can play with anyone. I think it's just about being more consistent which is something we lacked towards the middle to end of the year. It's just coming out and keeping that hunger playing the way we know we can play.
Q: You're obviously the starter now but there is always this talk of Teddy Bridgewater getting healthy. Does this have the makings to be a distraction?
A: It really doesn't change the way I approach things. My goal is to come in and get better to be the best player I can be. That's up to the coaches; you would have to ask Mike Zimmer what he thinks on that. From my standpoint, it doesn't change how I approach things.
Q: What do you make of the new faces in the backfield? How they can help?
A: I think they are both extremely talented. Just being able to watch Dalvin Cook and what he did during the spring. I thought he showed flashes of his potential and I thought he played really well. I think it will be exciting to get Latavius Murray out there and see what he can do. Just from watching from afar what he was able to do in Oakland he is obviously a good football player. And then with Jerick McKinnon we all know what he is capable of, he's very versatile, good in protection, great out of the backfield, running routes and catching the football. With those guys that position group will be really strong for us.
Q: Did you get more chemistry as the season went along with Jerick McKinnon?
A: I think that was just where the offense went last year, trying to utilize everyone, especially the backs, trying to find mismatches in the passing game. We do feel comfortable with him running routes out the backfield or splitting him out wide if we go empty. I think we do a lot of different things with him.
Q: There is something to be said about wide receiver-quarterback chemistry. How big is it get a full offseason with Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and whoever might be coming back this year?
A: I think it's big. Being able to work in the spring with those guys and talk about routes, depths, and where I expect them to be. Also getting there feedback about where they expect the ball to be, how they expect it to be thrown and it's been great. I think it's a big part of the game being able to trust each other. For me to able to trust them that they will be in right spot and they will get open. Also for them to able to trust me that I am going to put in a place that allows them to make a play. I think there is a lot to be said for that chemistry and this time of year is something that can be worked on and keep building.
Q: What do you make of the concussion studies that have come out recently?
A: I think we all understand the risks we are taking when we step on the football field with the injuries. I probably haven't spent a ton of time looking into the studies and the numbers. It's starting to become a little more concerning because each study that comes out they are finding more brain trauma which is a little bit scary. At the same time, I don't think you can pay attention to it because if you're looking at those and your worried it will take away from your ability to go out and play football. I think that comes with understanding these are the risks we take and part of the game we play.
Vikings Cornerback Terence Newman
Q: What will you miss about Mankato?
A: I can't say what I will miss because I don't know how it's going to be like next year. It's cool walking up through here and you got a bunch of fans and whatnot cheering you on wanting autographs and asking questions.
Q: Was it an easy decision to come back this year?
A: Super easy. I definitely want to build what we did that first year. I think this team is close to be honest. That's just my thought. We're close to doing great things. Obviously, we got to work and compete hard. I think we just need to be a little more meaner to each other and have a couple more fights. That just lets you know that everyone is really working and guys are getting personal and what not. I'm just looking forward to getting back to work and being with my brothers and having some fun.
Q: Do you have any nerves coming into minicamp anymore?
A: Those left a while ago. I'm always a little nervous in the first practice. I don't know why but first practice I'm always a little jittery and it settles down after that. It's always good once you get the first one over with. For me I just relax and have fun.
Q: Are you curious to see how you will evolve this year?
A: I'm willing to do whatever they ask. If they ask me to give LJ [Linval Joseph] a break at the three-technique, I'll probably try to do that. Probably won't be very good at it but I would give it my best. It doesn't matter to me. I just want to have a role and be able to have an opportunity to win a ring. That's the only reason I'm still playing.
Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph
Q: How does it feel to be in Mankato?
A: It's good to be back, obviously this is a special training camp. Exciting being our last one down here in Mankato, my seventh one in Mankato, and it's been great. Mankato is an incredible host, they have beautiful facilities for us the field has always been great condition. I'm very appreciate of everything that Mankato has offered over the course of my career.
Q: Anything you think you'll miss the most?
A: Jake's Stadium Pizza. That's probably going to be number one. I may even venture down to Mankato in future years just to get to Jake's Pizza.
Q: What are your expectations of the team going into the season?
A: I have super high expectations for our team this year. I think that's everyone's expectations every year. If you start the season without the expectation to win a championship you're cutting yourself short. We want to be champions, we want to be the first Vikings team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in our home stadium in Minnesota for Super Bowl LII. A lot of times you get asked, "Do you want to play in your own Super Bowl?" Well of course we do but that's our expectation every year. We don't come out here and put in the work over the next three weeks to not be prepared to win a championship.
Q: What has to happen for all of that?
A: We have a long way to go to get there, there's no question about it. It's about laying the foundation. We're not near the team we need to be, come September 11 when we tee it up against the New Orleans Saints. That's part of the process, that's why we're here. That's why were down here to put in work every day and if we get better each and every day that we're down here we've already laid a solid groundwork over OTA's and minicamp, I like our chances.* *
Q: Have you had any dealings with Teddy Bridgewater since minicamp and how do you think he's doing?
A: Just communication over the phone. He's typical Teddy. He has the best mindset and the best attitude. He was unable to make it to my kids camp this year, he had some stuff going on. He gives me a call, I think he missed it more than the kids missed him. That's the type of person he is and I'm excited to see him when he gets back up here. I know he's been working hard.
Vikings Offensive Lineman Joe Berger
Q: Do you feel at all emotional about it being the final training camp in Mankato?
A: I don't know if you can get emotional about training camp. It's been a good place to have training camp and I've been a lot of fun teams that started here. You can't look into it too deep.
Q: Is there anything you will miss about this place?
A: It's a great time to bond with your teammates. You think back to the guys you have had the opportunity to play with over the years. That is what you will miss. Sleeping on a cold dorm floor and eating dorm food, you're not going to miss that. The hard work you do out there you'll miss in a weird way. The time you spend with the guys uninterrupted and just get to bond with some pretty impressive players over the years.
Q: As a guy who is a center, how do you look at the quarterback situation?
A: Those questions have come up a lot during my time and it's something I don't have to worry about. They are two great quarterbacks. That is other people's decisions and I don't have to worry about that at all.
Vikings Running Back Jerick McKinnon
Q: As the only returner at the running back position, how do you see yourself fitting in with the new guys?
A: I think it will be done by committee, but there's only one starter at every position. That's my main goal, to come in here and compete for that job. But like I've said, it's a good group, and I can't wait to see how my game stacks up against theirs.
Q: How do you feel heading into camp, knowing what you know about the offense?
A: I feel good. I feel like I have a little bit of the upper hand, like you said being the only guy back from last year. Dalvin [Cook] has been here throughout OTA's and the rookie training camps, so he's caught up to speed, and Latavius [Murray] is kind of still catching up a little bit, so I'm just going to use what I can, use my strengths to my advantage and go from there.
Q: What will you miss about Mankato?
A: Just the atmosphere, the night practices where all the families are around the field and stuff like that. I'm pretty sure that will be different. But I'd say I'd miss that the most.
Q: How different will it be being at training camp without Adrian Peterson?
A: Very different. Him and Matt [Asiata]. I talked to those guys yesterday, wished them the best of luck with what they're about to go through. It's going to be different, and I'm kind of still adjusting to being the older guy.
Vikings Safety Harrison Smith
Q: Talk about how much you are going to miss Mankato.
A: Fortunately, I am one of the guys who gets the sleep number bed. I am pretty excited to get some solid rest here and I am really hoping that increases performance on the field as well, but I will definitely miss Mankato. My rookie year I got to go to Gage Hall, and have been over here ever since so good memories. The town, the university have been great hosts for us, so we'll miss it.
Q: Zimmer talked about wanting more of an aggressive defense this season, maybe even more reckless, is that music to your ears?
A: I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think I know what he means when says "reckless." It's not just play like a maniac. It's play at high level without holding much back. Obviously still within whatever your mission is on that play, but just that mindset of allowing yourself to be a little bit reckless is something that just kind of gets you going for each play, each game, having that mentality as a defensive player.
Q: It seems like he has a lot of trust in what you guys can do.
A: I think he does. We have had a pretty big core group of guys that have stayed together for a while and Zim (Mike Zimmer) has coached us for a few years now so I think he has grown in his trust with us and if we mess up, I am sure he will reign us in so whatever he asks of us, we are going to try to put on tape.
Q: Terence Newman said he wants you guys to be almost mean to each other. What is the attitude towards that?
A: I think that's a good point. We have such a good group of guys and such a close-knit group that sometimes, maybe we are not as mean to each other as we should be, in a positive way, so I think that is what he is getting at there. He has more experience than any of us seeing what type of mentalities and interactions work best with teams, so I think he probably brings up a good point.
Q: What gnaws you the most about the lost opportunity last year?
A: Just the missed opportunity. After a few years in the league, you understand how few opportunities you get. Some guys are lucky enough. My rookie year, we came in and we went to the playoffs, so I just thought that's how it was every year. That's how we want it to be here every year. But there is a lot of ups and downs and a lot of things that don't always bounce your way and you have to overcome them. That's something as you get a few years under your belt, you understand when you have opportunities you have to make the most out of them. It doesn't necessarily gnaw me in a negative way, I think it's more going forward how can we turn that into a positive and not let things pass us by. Take advantage of them now. It's not tomorrow. It's not we're good this year, next season we'll be ok. It's right now, it's today and I think that's the only way to approach it.
Vikings Defensive End Everson Griffen
Q: How excited are you about your new contract extension?
A: I'm excited man. First and foremost, I want to thank God. Without him, none of this is possible. My wife, for always being there for me, Rob [Brzezinski], Rick [Spielman], and my agent Brian Murphy at Athletes First for making this happen right before camp so we don't have to worry about it. I want to thank the Wilf family for having faith in me and believing in me, and also the coaches, Coach [Mike] Zimmer and Coach Andre Patterson for helping me master my technique. And to the fans, the best fans in the world, something special is going to happen here. We have to believe and they have to believe it. You got to believe it in your heart, and we got to go out there each and every day to do work.
Q: So it's a four year deal, making it six more years in total?
A: Yeah, I got these two years and four more years in extension.
Q: What does it say that the organization has such confidence that you're going to be an effective player into your thirties?
A: I think I was fortunate to sit behind Jared [Allen] for four years, so I don't have all the wear and tear on my body like the people who get thrown into the fire from the beginning. It shows that they have extreme confidence and faith in me, and that they believe in my ability to go out there and help this team win a championship, because that's our number one goal each and every year, and to have high expectations for yourself and the team. It shows that they have faith and tremendously high hopes for me too.
Q: How much appreciation do you have for what's happened throughout the past five years of your career?
A: It means I'm a Viking for life. My appreciation is high. I appreciate each day I step on the football field. I appreciate the coaching staff, the ownership and the organization. It just shows me that they respect me more as a player and as a man. I can never take that for granted, and I have to go out there and play balls to the wall now, like I always do. I don't have to change nothing with my play, but just take my game to the next level each and every day and help this team win.
Q: With this being the last training camp in Mankato, will you miss it next year?
A: Of course. This is my eight season, my eighth training camp in Mankato. I'm the second longest tenured player here besides Brian Robison. I'm going to miss it, but getting that new Eagan facility is going to be awesome, it's going to be top of the line. It's going to be hard to leave Mankato, but at the same time I'm going to love it because we'll have a brand new facility.
Q: What are your thoughts on some of the young defensive lineman coming into this year?
A: Oh man, we have tremendous athletes. We have Linval [Joseph], we have Tom Johnson, we have Danielle Hunter, hopefully Sharrif [Floyd] can get back, we have Shamar [Stephen]. We have a great group of defensive linemen that can get the job done at a high level, that Andre Patterson trusts and believes in on a high level. The biggest thing for us is coming together and working. It starts with this process of grinding and coming together as a team and as a unit to be able to get where we want to go. We can be the best, but it's up to us. Like Coach Patterson always says, "it ain't easy being great." You got to go out there each and every day to be great, and that's what we have to do.
Q: A lot of younger cornerbacks talked about Terence and how he's helped them out. Has he offered you advice as a safety too or has he helped anything in your development?
A: Yeah, just it's not always exactly what to do on a play, but it's habits. It's how he takes care of himself off the field, things he does in the offseason, how to watch film the right way. He's gotten a few games back there at safety as well so he does have experience there. He can play all over and he's just a wealth of knowledge so not just myself, but everyone on the team is lucky to have him around.
Q: What does it mean to get Everson Griffen locked in for a few more years, through 2022?
A: I think we all knew that was going to happen. You don't let guys like that go. Having a guy up front that can be as disruptive as he is in the pass game and not only that, he's also extremely disruptive in the run game, which a lot of times you just see sack numbers and that's what sticks out. But he's a complete player that dominates the game, run or pass. Having a guy like him. I'm glad we have him locked up. I'm glad he's on our team. It makes our defense that much more potent for a longer time.
n the room. But it's all just about having fun and competing at the end of the day, and that's what I'm here to do.
Q: What unique skills do you believe you bring to the running back position?
A: I would probably say my versatility. I've always relied on my versatility and ability to do more than one thing. Those decisions will be made at the end of training camp with the coaches, but it's my job to come in here and make sure that I keep a bug in their ear, that my name stays up there.
Vikings Defensive End Datone Jones
Q: Is it interesting to be signing purple items after signing green items for fans last time around in Green Bay?
A: It definitely is when you go to a rival team. When you're growing up you never join sides with the enemy, but this is my family now so the enemy is the other team. For me, I'm excited just to be amongst this group, to play with these guys and help push this team to championship capabilities.
Q: You and Will Sutton are both staying within the NFC North. Have you swapped some stories about what it's been like to come here?
A: All the time, because we've all played against each other every year. I've known Will since high school, and just seeing him grow up, go to college, do things in college and then go to Chicago and me to Green Bay, and now we're back in the same place, it's a great feeling. He's a great friend of mine and he's also a great teammate. Like I told him, we got to do whatever we can to help each other. We're both moving here, we got to do whatever we can to help each other stay comfortable and just help each other so we can adjust, so we can not only help the team but make the team and help it get to that playoff level.
Vikings Defensive End Danielle Hunter
Q: What is the biggest thing you have improved on from last training camp?
A: Just coming in and working on the little things. That is all I do. I don't look at the last thing, I just come in and keep working on building off of whatever I had last season.
Q: You had a phenomenal year last year. What more can you show?
A: I am really just focused on going out there and doing what I need to do for my team right now. That is all it is.
Q: What does Everson Griffen mean to you knowing he has helped you and taken you under his wing?
A: Ever since I have been here, he has been one of my mentors. He is right there looking for it to see what I can do. I have been following him, since I have got into the games, and then B-Rob (Brian Robison). That's how I feel about him, so those are the two guys I have always been looking up to.
Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen
Q: What are your feelings about the last camp in Mankato?
A: Last camp, yeah, it's going to be crazy. This will be my 10th camp here including college, so it's going to be a little different not coming to Mankato anymore. But I'm going to enjoy this last one. I love seeing the people that have watched me throughout college and now through the NFL. It's fun to see those people come out and say, "Hey, I watched you in college, I saw your games in college." That's definitely exciting for me, and I'm going to take advantage of it.
Q: What will you miss the most about being in Mankato for camp?
A: I think for my wife and I and now child to come back to where we went to college, go to some of the local restaurants that we loved going to when we were here, and seeing some of the old coaches, teachers, just people in the community that we don't get to see as much as we'd like to.
Q: Do you think that you'll have more fans here because it's the last camp?
A: For me personally? No, probably not personally, but I think they'll be more people from the community and from the area coming out just knowing that it's the last one in the area. I think sometimes even when I was going to college here I think we maybe didn't take advantage of having the Vikings right here, being able to go out to practice every day. I think people from the community will now take advantage of it, knowing that we're not going to be here anymore. It's such an easy opportunity to come and watch practice, which not a lot of people can do, watch a NFL practice. I think a lot of people will be coming out for that reason.
Q: What are your expectations for this team following last year's up and down season?
A: I think we all have high expectations, as we did last year. I think we learned a lot from what happened last year. I think there's a lot of things that the coaching staff has done and we as players have done to try and change that around. Nobody was satisfied with missing the playoffs last year and even the year before that, going and losing in the first round. I think there's a lot of hungry players on this team, a lot of guys who have been here for a long time. We want to win and we want to win now. I think that's the message that Coach has been giving us all offseason, and I think we just have to take it one day at a time. It doesn't really matter who you're playing, what week it is, how many wins you have at that point, you got to play every game the same and prepare the same way every game.
Q: Has your mindset changed at all following last season?
A: No, I don't want to change a thing. I just want to keep doing the things that got me here. I want to make sure that I keep getting better. Every offseason I kind of have a goal to keep getting stronger, to keep getting faster, quicker, becoming a better all around receiver, being able to block and being able to catch, and being reliable. For me it's just doing the same things and being consistent, and the more that I can be consistent the more I can help this team win games.
Q: How big is it to get a full offseason under your belt with Sam Bradford?
A: It's huge. Sometimes we forget that we didn't have an offseason with him last year just because of the way he was able to come in and perform so well and make us feel so comfortable. It's been a great offseason getting to know him personally better, and obviously getting to know how he likes things done. Last year we didn't have a whole lot of time to figure out what he likes, little things that he likes in routes and little things that he likes done differently. We've had that time now and hopefully we'll keep continuing that into training camp.
Q: What is your impression of this wide receiver group heading into Training Camp?
A: I think it's an impressive group honestly. It was such a fun OTAs and minicamp for me personally, to see how good we can be at that position, and really across the board at all positions. But it was just fun to see guys flying around, making plays on a consistent basis. It didn't really matter if the guy had played ever in the NFL before or if he'd played six or seven years like some of the guys have. Everybody was making plays, flying around and having fun, feeding off of one another. I'm looking forward to that to continue on through training camp.