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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Alex Boone adds the tough, mean and nasty to Vikings’ O-line

By Derek Wetmore

BY: JOE OBERLE

MANKATO — It’s hard to miss offensive guard Alex Boone. Not because he’s 6-8, 310 pounds (although that helps), but because he’s a bundle of energy. The past spring the Vikings’ biggest free agent acquisition of the offseason took OTAs by storm with his loquacious manner, and on Thursday at check-in day in Mankato, his presence elicited a frequent call of “Booooone” from the assembled fans. The Vikings and the Purple faithful are expecting big things from Boone in 2016.

“He brings a big personality to the team,” Vikings right guard Mike Harris said. “I’ve never been around a guy like that. He’s very intense, on and off the field. He just gives the team a spark, something we were missing last year. Alex loves winning games, and he is going to give it his all this year. And we are going to need him to play at his best.”

The Vikings makeshift offensive line from last season has alternately been credited for Adrian Peterson’s league rushing total and blamed for the team’s bottom of the barrel passing numbers. So the Vikings made the line a priority in the offseason and Boone became the face of it. And thus far, he is winning the offseason with his winning attitude.

“I love camp,” Boone said Thursday morning in Mankato. “I love everything about it. I love football. I love being away. It’s been a long time since I’ve got to get away for camp. It’s fun. You get to be with the guys, play football all day and just laugh.”

Boone’s attitude comes through the door before he does. With multicolored tattoo ink covering his right arm in a sleeve, Boone strides with confidence from an interview session to autograph signing, into the dorms and then back outdoors a few moments later. He jumps on a bike and then rides quickly down the street, purposely skidding to a stop just before colliding with Chad Greenway. He appears to be constantly on the lookout for the next laugh.

“I’m a prankster. I’m wild. I have a lot of energy,” Boone blurts out in rapid succession. “I can never settle down. I don’t sleep. I am all about football, 24-7.”

Asked about his best prank, he responds, “I can’t tell you on camera. They still don’t know who did it. So I am going to leave it at that.”

Beware, Matt Kalil.

Boone is penciled in at left guard where he will line up next to the more low-key Kalil. It could be a coupling of personalities designed to raise the “nasty” of Kalil, and even the whole line. That is certainly Boone’s intention.

“If everybody is on the same page, it should not take long,” he said. “If everybody believes the same thing and buys into the same thing that we’re going to be the toughest, the meanest, the nastiest group, it’s not going to take very long for everybody to get on the same page.

“It’s crucial, though, that everybody buys into that. It’s easy to say one thing and it’s easy to believe another. It’s one of those things where you have to believe we are going to be the most feared group out there. And that’s what we’re working for right now.”

Somewhere head coach Mike Zimmer is smiling. Bringing some attitude to the offensive line was his stated goal in the offseason. And Boone appears to be have been drinking the Zimmer Kool-Aid. He appreciates the tough, old-school attitude of his new offensive line coach Tony Sparano, and feels the same way about Zimmer.

“Zim’s a great guy, and I think a lot of guys are baffled by this when I say it, but he is an old-school coach,” Boone said. “You don’t see a lot of them anymore. He’s one of those guys who is going to tear you apart to bring you up. And he believes that more work is good work and it’s good for you. And I believe the same thing. I am excited to be here, excited to play for him and excited to be yelled at by him.”

Zimmer’s a defensive coach but he appears ready to have his voice heard on offense, especially when it comes to starting positions. And the offensive line is going to be one of the biggest position battles at training camp. With right tackle Phil Loadholt retiring earlier this week, center John Sullivan returning from back surgery, guard Brandon Fusco moving back to his former position of right guard and Andre Smith coming aboard as a free agent from Cincinnati, the offensive line will be in flux, and Zimmer will be watching.

“Offensively, there are a number of areas we’ve got to get better at,” Zimmer said. “So I’m coming in here to camp not looking at what we’ve done, [but at] what we have to do now and how can we improve. Because if we stay the same, we won’t be 11-5 and we won’t be contenders or anything else.”

All eyes will be on the offensive line, and, because he is hard to miss, many of them will be watching Boone. With expectations for the team increasing this season, the acquisition of the former San Francisco 49er guard is a reason for it. Is he feeling the pressure?

“Am I? I don’t feel anything,” Boone said. “I feel like it’s time to play football. My body is telling me it’s time to go. We’re going to hopefully do some great things this year. I’m excited.”

The post Alex Boone adds the tough, mean and nasty to Vikings’ O-line appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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