First-round draft pick Sharrif Floyd had plenty of opportunities in his NFL debut, but it wasn't all smooth for the Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle.
The No. 23 overall pick got about equal playing time with the other defensive tackles Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd and nose tackle Fred Evans played in 42 of the 80 defensive snaps. Letroy Guion played in 49 snaps and Everson Griffen in 47.
"The No. 1 lesson from everything is you can get better at everything you do. Go back and clean up everything, especially my hands. I know I can get them in the right position to make my play better," Floyd said.
"I was glad to get out there with live bullets. Everything counts. It's just a different mindset going in."
Floyd didn't play the final two games of preseason after having a "minor procedure" on his knee following the second preseason game.
Whether it was that time off or mistakes that come from being a rookie defensive lineman, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier pointed out some areas where Floyd could improve.
"His technique, at times, was an issue. You have to be a little more technically sound," Frazier said. "And in some of the things he was doing, there were times when they were running the football and you could see he was trying to pass rush. That makes it a bit little softer, and that created some problems. But he made some good plays in there. But there were times when his technique wasn't what we wanted it to be, and we kind of expected that, this being his first start after some time off as well."
Floyd didn't come up with any tackles, although the opportunities were there.
That was especially true on the Lions' last real drive of the game. On second-and-4, Floyd turned to his right unblocked as Reggie Bush ran by the vacated hole to Floyd's left for an 11-yard gain. Two plays later, Floyd tried to go around a block by backup offensive tackle Corey Hilliard instead of taking it on. Running back Joique Bell gained six yards up the middle.
"He did good. Everybody's got things they've got to work on. He's a good guy, a good kid. He'll be fine," Evans said.
It wasn't all bad. Floyd was able to knock down a Matthew Stafford pass early in the second quarter on third down to force a punt.
"I was still leveled in on my keys, but I've just got to focus on putting my hands in the right place instead of just coming out of my hips," Floyd said.
He was also asked to switch positions, depending on if the Vikings were in their nickel defense or base defense. In the base defense, Floyd was playing Kevin Williams' three-technique position. When the Vikings were in the nickel defense and Griffen played inside for additional pass-rush pressure, Floyd moved to the nose.
But Floyd's main responsibility going forward is expected to be backing up Williams at the three-technique.
"We have to get consistent play out of him at that position," Frazier said. "With the number of snaps he's going to be getting over the course of the year."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Vikings rookie Floyd learning on the fly
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