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Vikings Have Tons of Respect for Colts RB Frank Gore

DEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Back when Alex Boone played in San Francisco, the Vikings left guard would arrive around dawn for his daily workout.

A 49ers running back was almost always one step ahead of him.

When the Vikings and Colts square off Sunday, the first priority for Minnesota's defense will be stopping Indianapolis running back Frank Gore. Boone knows firsthand that won't be an easy task. 

"Frank's a grinder, for sure, hardest working guy I've ever met," Boone said. "I would get there to work out at 6 or 6:15 a.m., and he was already finishing his workout and going in to get treatment.

"He's one of those guys who goes 100 percent, 100 percent of the time," Boone added. "You love him for his effort and the fact that he knows so much."

Gore spent the first 10 seasons of his career in San Francisco and is in his second season with the Colts. 

Although he's not the flashiest or most electrifying runner, Gore has simply produced. His 12,830 career rushing yards are eighth all-time, and he is the NFL's leading active rusher.

Gore has eight 1,000-yard seasons and has been a model of consistency. His 74 career rushing touchdowns rank 24th all-time, tied with Marshawn Lynch and Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Leroy Kelly. Gore has amassed at least eight rushing touchdowns in five different seasons (he has four this season, half of the Colts total on the ground).

When asked about Gore this week, one Viking after another had nothing but good things to say about the 2005 third-round pick out of the University of Miami.

View images of the top contributors on offense, defense and special teams for the Indianapolis Colts.

"He carries his pads forward. I think he has got great vision, and then when he gets there, he's a compact, thick runner that can really add some power on contact," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "So, that's always a concern.

"[He] hasn't been a huge bounce guy. He's a vertical runner, but when he puts his foot in the ground and goes, that's where he makes his yards," he added. "He has quick feet, very quick feet in the hole."

Added Vikings defensive end Brian Robison: "Normally the guys who have success are the guys who may pound it out for two or three yards here and there, and then get four or five here and there, but then all of the sudden they break one for 25 or 30. That's the type of guy he is, he's got all the tools. He's not going to sit there and dance around and do a lot of stuff like that. He's going to make sure he's always trying to get positive yards."

Gore's skillset isn't just about picking up first downs on the ground though. He is known as a masterful pass blocker, something Zimmer and the Minnesota defense will be well-aware of Sunday.

"I would say that he's probably, of the backs that we've had this year, that he would be as good as any of them or maybe better than any back in protection," Zimmer said. "You don't play for 12 years or whatever it is and be as productive as he has, if you you're not good in every area."

Gore's current teammates and head coach see his commitment and contributions on a daily basis. The running back has 208 carries for 790 yards and four touchdowns this season.

"He's obviously gifted with some talent that not many folks in the world have," said Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. "But people don't see how hard he works and how much he cares and how smart of a football player he is. He's a pleasure to play with, a great teammate."

Added Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano: "He plays with a chip on his shoulder and has probably been told for a long, long time that he can't do this and can't do that. It's driven him to be the player and the man that he is today. He's a great player and he's a great teammate. He's a warrior and one of the toughest son of a guns I've ever been around."

The Vikings defense knows Gore, who is likely a future Hall of Famer, will be a chore to bring down Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The running back is a grinder, a guy who churns out yards and has the respect of teammates and opponents alike.

Just ask Eric Kendricks. The Vikings linebacker grew up in Fresno, California, which meant Gore and the 49ers were the ones mainly on television.

"Frank Gore was one of my favorite running backs," Kendricks said. "I'd say about middle school, when I was really getting into football, he was one of my favorites. Easily.

"Ever since the first day I've been watching film (on him this week), I've been excited," he added. "He's been doing it a long time, a lot longer than I have. You have to respect that."

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