Singletary sees big potential in Vikings LBs

Mike Singletary knows what it takes to be a great linebacker. He is a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but now he is charged with coaching up the Vikings' linebackers. See what he had to say about their potential and his adjustment to being a position coach once again.

With his long-time friend and now co-worker Leslie Frazier by his side, Mike Singletary spent last week scouting college talent from the bleachers high atop Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

Singletary is the new linebackers coach of the Minnesota Vikings after Frazier – his teammate from the 1980s Chicago Bears teams, including the Super Bowl-winning team from 1985 – hired him a few weeks ago. The two have remained close friends for more than 25 years, and now Singletary will be working under Frazier and helping him as the special assistant to the head coach and linebackers coach.

That second title has Singletary starting to get familiar with his new linebacker corps of E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway and Ben Leber, but two of those three are scheduled to be free agents. If the Vikings can re-sign Leber and Greenway, Singletary has an opinion on just how good they could be.

"Tremendous. I think it's a physical group. It is a smart group and a very productive group," he said. "I think when you have that, you have the propensity to have a really outstanding group. I'm very excited. I can't wait to get my hands on them."

He may have to wait longer than he'd like. If there is no collective bargaining agreement in place when organized team activities normally start, teams won't be able to gather for their usual May and June practices and minicamps. As of last week, Singletary hadn't talked with any of the linebackers yet.

"All I've done is just looked at film and talked to the coordinator (Fred Pagac) and the assistant linebacker coach and, of course, Les, and gotten a lot of information that way," he said.

As a linebacker with the Bears from 1981 to 1992, Singletary finished first or second on the team in tackles in each of his final 11 years, made all-pro eight times, was selected to 10 consecutive Pro Bowls and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 and 1988.

But before he starts dispensing advice for his players and implementing some of the adjustments he might be able to suggest for the unit, Singletary wants to talk with his linebackers.

"I think first and foremost, I want to sit down and really get to know them and what their goals are," he said. "Because they aren't a bunch of young guys, if you start now they'll figure it out – they've done it and they've done it well. Now it's just a matter of taking the next step, next level. I'm excited to be a part of that progression."

The linebackers won't be the only ones making adjustments with Singletary in charge of that position. Getting back to being a position coach will mean a new philosophy for him. He spent the last three seasons as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Prior to that, he was a linebackers coach with the 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.

However, Singletary said his intense focus will be targeted on this linebacker group with the Vikings, not starting his own coaching ascent again.

"I'm the kind of person that, wherever I am, I'm going to be there 150 percent," he said. "I'm not, ‘Well, I'm going to take this job and I'll work my way …' No. It is, take this job, be thankful for the job, work my tail off to get these guys to the next level, and whatever comes, it comes. That's the way I see it."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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