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Vikings Veterans Play an Important Role

The Vikings have a large number of returning players for 2016, including some whose years of experience fall in the double digits. ESPN's Ben Goessling took a look at Minnesota's roster and a role that veterans can play this season.

Goessling attended Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's film session last week, during which Zimmer said he hasn't witnessed any dissonance between the young players and the veterans.

"The good thing about our guys," Zimmer said, "and I see it with the rookies that are here right now going through this Phase Two [of the NFL offseason program], all of our older players take these guys under their wings and they continue to show them and teach them and talk to them about the different coverages or the way we run a route or the way we do things. There's no animosity."

Goessling wrote:

As much as any point in Vikings history, or at least in the 23 years since free agency made player movement much easier, the current Vikings are built around the practice of finding rookies who will fit and indoctrinating them in a specific way of doing things. Zimmer's culture has become intricately linked with General Manager Rick Spielman's scouting process, and more often than not, the players who wind up in Minnesota are the ones the Vikings think can grasp their core values: grit, intelligence and the suppression of personal accolades for a team goal.

Goessling said Zimmer and Spielman's effectiveness with the roster was demonstrated in 2015, which the Vikings regained the NFC North division title and made a playoff appearance for the first time since 2012.

Now that the team heads into 2016 with Super Bowl aspirations, Zimmer is counting on veterans to usher rookies into the Vikings' system.

Robison: 'Everyone is working hard'

The *Star Tribune's *Sid Hartman checked in with Vikings veteran defensive end Brian Robison to see how the 2007 fourth-round pick has started his 10th offseason in Minnesota.

Robison, who helped the Vikings win the NFC North in 2015 by playing defensive end and sliding inside in a sub package, told Hartman the team is as focused as he can remember.

"I think the thing I'm most impressed with is the fact that really the last two years, but especially this year, guys have come back in shape," said Robison, 33. "It looks like we never skipped a beat from the end of the season. Guys have come back in shape, they're working hard, and that's what you want to see out of a young football team like we have. That everyone is working hard and they're doing everything they possibly can to help the team win."

The Vikings defense has gone from ranking 31st overall in 2013 to 14th in 2014 and 13th last season in two years under Zimmer. Robison said there's still room for improvement.

"Absolutely, I think there's ways we can improve," he said. "I think if you look at it there were some big jumps we made in a lot of areas. I think two things that we can really work on this year that will help us improve a lot is our two-minute defense at the end of the half. We allowed too many points throughout the year on that end on our part. We have to work on that. Then we just need to create more turnovers. A lot of that comes down to guys making the extra effort."

David Morgan confident in rounded skill set

After drafting MyCole Pruitt in 2015, the Vikings added another tight end to their roster this year in David Morgan, selected 188th overall.

Viking Update's John Holler spoke with Morgan, who told Holler his biggest asset is the versatility he brings to Minnesota's offense. Morgan, who received a full-time starting nod for the University of Texas-San Antonio in 2015, caught 45 passes for 566 yards and five touchdowns. Morgan said he is comfortable filling a number of roles.

"I think my strength is my versatility," Morgan told Holler. "I lined up at a lot of different positions – wide out, slot, in-line, H-back. Just being able to do a lot of different things is something I bring that I think will be of value to the Vikings because I have versatility and can be asked to play different roles. I've lined up in a lot of different positions, so I feel comfortable in a lot of different spots and I don't feel out of place anywhere."

Holler said he expects Morgan to primarily be used as a blocking tight end.

At a time when elite tight ends are increasingly being viewed as receivers first and blockers second, Morgan is a player who doesn't mind doing the dirty work. In fact, it's something he hangs his hat on.

"It's something I take a lot of pride in," Morgan told Holler. "On a team that runs the ball as much as the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson, blocking up front is critical to that. I pride myself on being able to do my job and handle my assignments, so if my primary job is to block for the running game, I'm up for it and it would be an honor."

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