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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Michael Mauti Still Learning, Improving

Rookie linebacker Michael Mauti sticks close to fellow rookie Gerald Hodges. Not all too surprising, considering both played in the same defensive backfield at Penn State.

They were side by side Friday as players straggled onto the practice fields for the final time before heading to San Francisco. They were back together two hours later after practice concluded.

“We’ve been studying the playbook,” said Mauti.

“We’re relating the same kind of plays from the playbook last year to this [year].”

So when Mauti has a question, does he go to his former college teammate first?

“No, I’d go to a veteran,” said Mauti, laughing. “If I’ve got a question, he’s probably got the same question, too.”

The Vikings selected the 6-foot-2, 240 pound Mauti in the seventh round of the 2013 draft after taking Hodges in Round 4. The tandem combined for over 200 tackles in their senior year in Happy Valley, but the season ended bitterly for Mauti as he suffered the third torn ACL of his career in mid-November.

The tear – Mauti’s second on his left knee – scared off most NFL teams. But the Vikings took a flyer.

Just nine months after the injury, Mauti said his surgically-repaired left knee “feels great,” which has to give the Vikings some hope that they’ve got the steal of the seventh round in their back pocket.

“Mauti is natural linebacker,” said defensive coordinator Alan Williams. “I’m not sure I can define what a natural mike linebacker is, but he is that.”

Mauti has notched four tackles in the preseason thus far while spending time with multiple kick-coverage units – each one giving him a new opportunity to find a niche. Among the different coaches he’s received instruction from is linebackers coach Mike Singletary, a ten-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer.

By: Sam Ekstrom |

“What I take from him is all the details,” said Mauti. “I’m just trying to be like a sponge because it is so technical from college to the NFL; that transition. It’s all about the little things.”

Mauti expects to get more reps on special teams and at linebacker this Sunday and hopes to make an impression before the Vikings execute their first round of cuts. The team has a history of holding on to seventh-round picks, including wide receiver Stephen Burton, starting safety Jamarca Sanford, and back-up linebacker Audie Cole.

“We’ve been studying hard on the books and watching a lot of tape,” said Mauti. “[This game] will be good for us.”

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