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Bleacher Report – Vikings

No room for modesty: Danielle Hunter’s big day puts focus on defensive standout

By Judd Zulgad

MINNEAPOLIS — Danielle Hunter did his best to deflect any accolades that came his way following the Vikings’ 24-9 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“It was a good day,” the Vikings defensive end said. “We decided to stop the run first and work together as a defensive unit to go after the passer.”

Hunter’s attempt at modesty might have been appreciated by his coaches and teammates, but for the purposes of what you’re reading there was no time for such nonsense. On a day in which the Vikings established a single-game record with 10 sacks, Hunter was the statistical star of the show.

He sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford 3.5 times, added another quarterback hurry, tied linebacker Eric Kendricks for the team lead with nine tackles and recovered a fumble after Stafford made an ill-advised pitch in the fourth quarter that he returned 32 yards for a touchdown.

“I was surprised,” Hunter said of seeing Stafford attempt the pitch. “I was like, ‘Why would you pitch the ball?’ But it worked out in our favor, so I’m happy with that.”

Hunter had to be ecstatic with the entire day and really his season. He entered Sunday tied for second in the NFL with eight sacks and took over the league lead with 3.5 more on Sunday. Not bad for a guy who was a third-round pick out of LSU in 2015 and has developed into a top talent in Mike Zimmer’s defense.

Hunter, who turned 24 on Oct. 19, had six sacks in his rookie season, 12.5 in 2016 and then seven in the regular season last year before adding another in the playoffs. Hunter was definitely helped by the return to form of starting right defensive end Everson Griffen, who was playing in his second game Sunday since returning to the team after being away to address a mental health issue. Griffen had 1.5 sacks on Sunday.

“Danielle is a great athlete,” Zimmer said. “Great length (6-foot-5), strong, physical, but he’s improved on just being reactive. A lot of young defensive linemen, especially because we harp on stopping the run, they’re nervous about, ‘Hey, I’m going to take a chance here because I think this is a play action pass,’ or something like that. The thing I notice about Danielle, he just lets it rip now and that’s what makes him good.”

Griffen also said Hunter is extremely coachable and that helps him at still a young age.

“If I was coachable the way he is going into my early years, maybe things would be different,” Griffen said. “He’s very coachable, he takes what he learns in the classroom onto the field with him and does his job at a high level.”

Zimmer said Hunter’s willingness to learn is frequently on display when he goes to defensive line coach Andre Patterson to ask questions. “He goes to him every day and says, ‘What do I have to do to get better? What do I need to work on today?’” Zimmer said. “That’s just the kind of kid he is. He’s a great teammate. He a great team guy. It’s nice that he got some individual accomplishments today but, really, he’s more concerned about how the team does and how the defense plays.”

The post No room for modesty: Danielle Hunter’s big day puts focus on defensive standout appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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