Floyd: ‘Still a long way to go'

Sharrif Floyd was late to really get involved in watching football and studying it, but he's catching up, especially to the ways of the NFL. He and Leslie Frazier talked about his progress and what lies ahead.

Many NFL players have had football as the center of their universe since they were little kids. They grew up watching their hometown team and dreamed of one day playing for them.

Vikings rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd isn't one of those players. This Sunday, the Vikings will face Floyd's hometown team from Philadelphia. A lot of players would be pumped up to play in front of the friends and family back in Philly, but Floyd doesn't see Sunday's game as any different than the 13 games he has already played – because he didn't grow up a member of Eagle Nation.

"I never watched them," Floyd said. "I'm from Philly but I'm not a Philadelphia Eagles fan. I'm probably one in a million. It's just going to be a normal game for me. I'm glad to be playing the hometown (team). I wish it was in Philly, but it's a great opportunity."

Floyd didn't like the idea of sitting around for three hours and watching a football game or baseball or basketball game. He was an active kid who preferred to be outside and doing things other than being glued in front of a TV watching sports. He would rather play sports than watch them.

"The first NFL game I watched was in 2007," Floyd said. "The first college game I was watched was film of the team I was playing for in college. I didn't even watch (the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers play)."

Despite not having football in his blood like so many players do, Floyd developed into one of the most promising young defensive tackles in the college game. Head coach Leslie Frazier has been impressed with the progression Floyd has made since being drafted by the team in April and he is showing improvement on a week-by-week basis.

"He seems to be playing more confident as time has gone on," Frazier said. "He's showing up a little bit more in the stat sheet, making more plays. But the confidence is probably the one thing that I'm seeing. I'm sure that has something to do with the game slowing down for him a little bit right now and understanding how blocking schemes and how people are going to try to block him as well, but the confidence in what he's doing and his technique has made a difference."

Floyd agreed with that assessment, citing the mental aspect of the game that requires an adjustment when college talent comes to the NFL.

"My biggest strides this year have been in understanding what's in front of me and the speed of the game," Floyd said. "I had excellent coaching in college, so things didn't change all that much coming to the NFL. It's just the speed that things happen at that you need to adjust to."

For a player who didn't watch games on TV, Floyd has become something of a film room junkie. He has taken what he has learned in film study to the practice field and has translated that into games, which has impressed Frazier.

Floyd acknowledged that his transition to the NFL has been made easier by having a couple of potential Hall of Famers lining up with him – defensive end Jared Allen and defensive tackle Williams. Both of them have taken Floyd under their wing and imparted wisdom that comes over time – a selfless act that Floyd has appreciated.

"They've been great to me," Floyd said. "Anything I've ever asked or wanted to know, they've helped me. With Kevin, even if I'm not asking, he's still telling and helping me."

Floyd is being groomed to replace Williams at the end of this season. Williams, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, isn't expected to return next season barring an organizational shift in philosophy. It's going to be Floyd's time to shine on a full-time basis starting next year. He is excited by the prospect, but understands he still has a long way to go to reach his ultimate goal.

"I feel like I've made a lot of improvement, but there is still a long way to go," Floyd said. "I'm comfortable now and confident I can help make plays to help our defense get off the field. As far as goals go, I'm just looking to improve from one game to the next. If I can do that, the rest will take care of itself."

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