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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Notebook: For Vikings LB Emmanuel Lamur, position change is welcomed in a familiar defense

By Andrew Krammer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — In one of the Vikings’ starting defensive groups on Tuesday, still without the 6-foot-5-inch Anthony Barr, Emmanuel Lamur’s helmet stood taller than everyone.

Imagine a pairing of the towering linebackers. They’d at least intimidate throwing lanes.

Lamur, standing 6 feet and 4 inches tall, began this week’s three-day mandatory minicamp by mixing in the first-team defense with veteran Chad Greenway. It’s like he’s a rookie again, because the 27-year-old Lamur is back at weak-side linebacker where he started with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2012. Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator then. Now, after signing a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Vikings this spring, Zimmer is his head coach.

“Oh, man, Zim hasn’t changed,” Lamur said Tuesday. “Coach is going to tell you straight up. He’s straight forward and he’s going to give it to you whether you like it or not. He’s going to push you to the fullest, he’s going to expect the best out of you. He’s going to expect you to work every day. He’s not choosy. He doesn’t handle favoritism. He just wants people to compete.”

A lack of favoritism is, in part, why Lamur is here. Entering an 11th season with the Vikings, Greenway has given his professional football career to Minnesota, which took a few million in pay cuts to do, and will be competing for his starting role against Lamur this summer. Greenway continues to lead reps in the base and nickel defenses, subbing for Barr in the latter, with Lamur mixing in periodically during practices open to the media.

“He’s extremely athletic,” Zimmer said. “He’s long. Great kid, talented, good athlete, fast, a lot of good things.”

A familiarity with the defense, and its leader, have helped his transition to a new defense, according to Lamur.

“The concepts didn’t change, really,” Lamur said. “But at the same time you’ve got to stay on top of your game. You can’t sleep on your game just because you know the plays.”

To bolster competition, the Vikings made it clear they wanted Lamur. His $2 million guaranteed is the most of any contract signed by the five ex-Bengals to follow Zimmer to Minnesota, including cornerback Terence Newman, safety Chris Crocker, safety Taylor Mays and tackle Andre Smith. It’s also second among this year’s free agency guarantees, well behind Alex Boone’s $10 million.

That’s pretty good for a player with 15 career starts, all at a position he won’t be playing in Minnesota. In Cincinnati, Lamur shifted to strong-side linebacker and eventually earned a starting role in 2014 before losing that spot to A.J. Hawk last season.

“They put me on the opposite side of Vontaze Burfict,” Lamur said. “Which worked out, of course. At the same time, I prefer the Will linebacker.”

Playing at weak-side linebacker will give Lamur more room to run with the three-technique defensive tackle often covering up the guard in front of him. Lamur, who played some safety at Kansas State, brings speed to the position, according to Zimmer. A 4.63 time in the 40-yard dash at his 2012 pro day would’ve ranked fifth among all linebackers at that year’s scouting combine, had he been invited.

“I just think [weak-side linebacker] is a better spot for him,” Zimmer said. “I’ve always thought that. I don’t want to go into why we didn’t do it there, but I think that’s the best spot for him.”

‘New wrinkles’

With the addition of veteran coaches Tony Sparano and Pat Shurmur to the staff, the Vikings sought fresh perspectives on offense.

So there were bound to be some changes, or “new wrinkles,” as Zimmer referenced on Tuesday. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and receiver Stefon Diggs both said the scheme, from their ends, looks similar as last year. It’d appear the most fundamental adjustments are taking place in the trenches, where both the offensive line and tight ends are coached under Sparano and Shumur.

Evaluations without pads means reading movements and techniques.

“One of the things I look at is if you watch our defensive backs, they do the drills the exact same way,” Zimmer said. “To me what I’m seeing with the offensive line is everything is looking the same. It’s a lot of different things. And it’s still a work in progress. It’s not anywhere near finished. I haven’t asked any of the offensive linemen if they like it or if they don’t like it, because I really don’t care. I think they’re improving. I see improvement on the things we’re trying to teach them and the things we’re trying to get them to do.”

From left to right, Matt Kalil, Joe Berger, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco and Andre Smith, filled out the Vikings’ first-team offensive line during Tuesday’s morning practice. Berger filled in for left guard Alex Boone, who has been held out at least two weeks with an undisclosed injury.

“We would like to have everybody out there,” Zimmer said regarding Boone. “That shouldn’t be a big deal. He’s a pretty smart guy, even though he went to Ohio State.”

Late hits

Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson saw a handful of reps with the first-team offense on Tuesday, making a one-handed grab over his head on a pass from Teddy Bridgewater. Said Bridgewater: “We’ve all been seeing it. I can’t sit up here and judge players – that’s not my job – but from just completing the football to him, throwing routes out there and just watching him detail his work, I’ve been pretty impressed.”

The fullback position is alive in Minnesota as Zach Line continues to see a decent share of reps with the first-team offense. Most, but not all, of his work on Tuesday came during team red-zone drills.

The morning’s lone interception went to linebacker Audie Cole, who snagged a tipped Shaun Hill pass by safety Antone Exum Jr. Defensive tackle Tom Johnson also batted down a Bridgewater throw at the line of scrimmage.

A switch at right tackle came with Andre Smith seeing most of the top reps on Tuesday and Phil Loadholt working with the second-team offense. Loadholt had been with the first team during OTAs. Right tackle and right guard figure to be the offensive line’s top competitions during training camp.

Linebacker Anthony Barr, nose tackle Linval Joseph, defensive end Scott Crichton and cornerback Mackensie Alexander returned to practice and donned helmets, but did not take part in team drills. Completely held out of practice were guard Alex Boone, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, tight end Rhett Ellison, linebacker Travis Lewis and guard Mike Harris.

The post Notebook: For Vikings LB Emmanuel Lamur, position change is welcomed in a familiar defense appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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