As the Vikings start the stretch run of the 2013 season, one of the players that will be scrutinized closely is rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. With questions surrounding whether or not Kevin Williams will be back in 2014 – he reduced his contract from two years to one year in the offseason – Floyd is viewed as a long-term solution at the under-tackle position.
Floyd is still raw by NFL standards, but is seeing his playing time increase and is easing his way into his role on the Vikings defensive line. He doesn't view himself as a finished product yet, but the game is slowing down for him and he is able to focus more on what he sees and doesn't obsess about the X's and O's of the learning process.
"I'm feeling good about where I'm at right now," Floyd said. "We're a game into the second half of the season and I'm getting a little more comfortable each game and feeling better about what I can do out there. I'm thinking a lot less each game and reading my keys a lot more."
His rookie season started slowly. After suffering a knee injury in the preseason opener against Houston, Floyd was limited throughout the remainder of training camp and the preseason. While he was able to absorb the defensive playbook, it was lost in translation in terms of bringing that knowledge to the field.
"That was tough because it did set me back a little bit early on," Floyd said. "I wasn't able to do some of the things that I wanted to do and needed to do to get to that next step in the progression as a professional. It slowed that down a little bit, but I've been catching up and I'm feeling good about things right now."
But Floyd has seen his confidence rise as the season has progressed. He's finding himself with the sense memory of seeing formations and blocking schemes before and has learned from those moments, which he feels has improved his game.
"For me, it's a comfort level and being able to see things better, but the biggest thing is that I have some experience now," Floyd said. "I've been in these situations before and I just feel more at ease and more comfortable because I'm at the point that when a play happens in front of me, I've seen it before and know what I need to do on that particular play."
The future looks bright for Floyd, whom the Vikings anticipate will be a foundation building block for the defensive line for years to come. He's confident he can be the type of player that many believed would be a top five draft pick in last April's draft. He's not getting cocky or ahead of himself, but he feels he is a much better player now that the player who showed up in Mankato in July is ready to get his NFL career started.
"I feel as though I'm making great strides," Floyd said. "I know that I have a long way to go, but I feel like I'm making good improvement from one week to the next. I'm not concerned with personal goals or getting more playing time or anything like that. My goal is just getting better as a team and trying to do my part to help make our defense better by executing what the coaches want me to do."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Floyd ‘thinking less' and catching up
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