Nose tackle Evans has shot at starting role

Fred Evans said he "definitely" has a chance to become a starter, but he isn't letting that consume his offseason. He knows he will remain part of the rotation and has things to improve first.

Defensive tackle Fred Evans feels he "definitely" has a chance to win a starting spot alongside Kevin Williams, but Evans isn't letting that opportunity consume him.

"Since I was a kid, any team I've ever been on, my goal is to always start. I've always felt that, regardless of the situation," Evans said.

That chance may be this season. The nose tackle has been getting some turns with the first-team defense during organized team activities, but incumbent starter Letroy Guion is still getting the majority of the work there.

That was also the case last year. Guion started all 15 games he played (he missed a midseason game with a foot injury) while Evans started only one.

"We've been rotating, as we always do. Even before last season and the season before last. It's never been that I get in at the end of the game or I don't play," Evans said. "We've always rotated, but it's been more of a rotation where I go first-team and then Letroy goes first. Just a natural rotation thing."

The Vikings often rotate seven or eight defensive linemen through during a game, but it's certainly on equal playing time. Guion was the starter at nose tackle and played in 54 percent of the defensive snaps. Evans, meanwhile, played in 30 percent of the snaps (Christian Ballard, Kevin Williams' backup, played in 33 percent).

Neither is considered an impressive interior pass rusher. Last year, Guion had 49 tackles, including four for a loss, two sacks and three quarterback hurries. Evans had 28 tackles, including six for a loss, two sacks and six quarterback hurries, along with five passes defensed.

Evans admits he would like to improve his pass-rushing sustainability, although he plans to stay at about the same playing weight as last year – he was listed at 305 in 2012.

"The one thing I wanted to get better at more so was my second pass rush from the play action and then just overall making myself not just being a run stopper – being able to be in on third-and-6 and third-and-7 and not feeling like I definitely have to come off the field," he said, adding: "Although we do have a number of great pass rushers. I'd be remiss to say that. But just put myself in a better position so I can make more plays than what I do."

Evans said he doesn't concern himself with what part of his game might be better than Guion's, or vice versa. They are friends off the field and Evans has learned to be more concerned about improving himself than worrying about others and decisions that coaches make.

He also isn't concerned that the Vikings drafted Sharrif Floyd in the first round of April's draft. Floyd is expected to be more of a three-technique tackle (the position Kevin Williams plays).

What Evans has learned is that veterans can provide some solid advice, even if he is entering his sixth NFL season. Confidence, he said, is one of the lessons learned.

"One thing I learned from Pat and Jared is that you're only as good as you really think you are. If you don't think you're that good, then you're not going to play that good. So just overall confidence," he said. "I feel like I'm a great player. We just have a lot of fun out there. Whoever is in, they're out there laughing and joking. We've all got different handshakes, but you need stuff like that to make a team more cohesive."


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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