Sharrif Floyd was back in his hometown of Philadelphia training during this offseason, but Minnesota didn’t stray far from his mind.
Floyd, the Vikings’ first of three first-round draft picks last season, kept a keen eye on the movement happening back in Minnesota. He watched as Mike Zimmer was hired to be the new head coached, replacing Leslie Frazier. Floyd kept tabs of the moves like re-signing Everson Griffen and adding big nose tackle Linval Joseph to the defensive line that Floyd will likely become a starter on next season.
Floyd likes what he sees.
"I track the comings and goings, yes sir," Floyd said. "(Zimmer is) building the way he likes it and the way he sees fit and know I’m just looking forward to meeting those guys and building a relationship so we can be the rock of the ‘D.’"
Taken No. 23 overall in the draft last year — which some felt was a big drop on draft day — Floyd should step in as a starter next season for Kevin Williams at defensive tackle. He’s been training to take the next step and is eager to get started with his new teammates and new coaching staff.
But Floyd, who had 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his rookie season as a backup, isn’t assuming anything when it comes to replacing Williams, the longtime defensive line stalwart.
"No, I go into it thinking I’m going to work," Floyd said when asked if he enters the offseason program believing he’s the starter. "We’re going to work. I’m not worrying about down the road right now. Let’s worry about now. Let’s get better, let’s lift, let’s run and let’s get ready for the season."
Williams is unlikely to re-sign with the Vikings after becoming an unrestricted free agent. Minnesota signed defensive tackle Tom Johnson and defensive end Corey Wootton last week to supplement the additions of Joseph and the re-signing of Griffen and Fred Evans.
Floyd appreciated getting the chance to work with Williams for one season.
"Of course, here or not, he’s still a friend of mine," Floyd said. "He’s Kevin Williams and he’s going to be a Hall of Famer someday, so of course I’ll miss him."
William’s departure opens a spot for Floyd though, the succession likely planned as soon as the Vikings drafted Floyd last year.
Floyd has been back in Minnesota for three weeks and said he’s continued his offseason workouts while trying to get to know the new coaching staff and strength staff.
After working for Frazier, defensive coordinator Alan Williams and defensive line coach Brendan Daly in his first NFL season, Floyd enters his second year with an entirely new coaching staff. Zimmer hired George Edwards to coordinate the defense and Andre Patterson to coach the defensive line.
The early impressions of Zimmer and his coaching staff have been well received by Floyd and the rest of his teammates.
"I think they’re on a mission," Floyd said. "They obviously got things pointed in the right direction as far as what they’re doing, and I think they’re going to be a great coaching staff. I just can’t wait to be a part of it and get going with everything."
Floyd said he’s not sure of his responsibilities in the new defense, with the defensive line a key to Zimmer’s scheme. He’s waiting for the offseason program to begin on April 7 so he can truly get to work with his new teammates and coaches and see just what Zimmer has in store for him.
"April 7 can’t come fast enough," Floyd said. "I’m so ready to get in there and get going. Let’s get rolling. The Vikings need to get back where they used to be and we’re going to do it."