Weight down, dedication up for Floyd

Sharrif Floyd has lost weight in the first part of his attempt to really earn his starting spot. The next step? Improving his technique and understanding of the game, a daily ramp-up to the season for him.

With his weight down and his opportunity up, Sharrif Floyd is ready to put his backup days behind him and earn more playing time.

In his rookie season, Floyd played in less than 40 percent of the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive snaps while veteran starter Kevin Williams was in for almost 62 percent of the snaps. Williams is gone, signing with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency, and Floyd is atop the depth chart at the three-technique defensive tackle that Williams occupied so efficiently over the previous decade.

In order to earn his spot, Floyd dedicated himself to weight loss and learning better technique this offseason.

On the first point, he dropped about 15 pounds and checked into training camp two pounds under his target weight of 305.

“It’s just self-control. It’s about what you eat,” he said. “Since I’ve been in camp I’ve still maintained the same weight, just eating grilled chicken and Caesar salad. Yes, Caesar’s dressing is the worst, but it’s better than bacon. It’s just watching what you eat and doing it the right way.”

He admits he still cheats his diet on occasion, with a soft spot for Tostitos Scoops, but he has learned to decrease the fat and sugar in his regimen.

His dedication to nutrition wasn’t because he wanted to get quicker, but because he wanted to increase his stamina for what he anticipates will be an increased role on defense.

Head coach Mike Zimmer admitted weight loss in football players – especially those trying to generate power – is a delicate balance.

“But a lot about strength is from your butt and your legs and your base and your pad level and those things,” Zimmer said. “Obviously, the bigger you are, it’s a little bit easier. But typically the bigger you get, you’re not as quick as you were. I don’t think that’ll be an issue with Sharrif. He’s done a really good job in the weight room.”

But Zimmer hasn’t been the only one coaching up Floyd, the 2013 first-round pick who entered the league a little bit rawer on technique than some because he didn’t start playing football until late in high school. Defensive line coach Andre Patterson has given Floyd more individualized lessons on technique, and defensive end Brian Robison also has been a source of education for Floyd.

“I’m just trying to help him with things. He’s having a few problems with some things right now,” Robison said. “He’s beating guys, but then he kind of puts himself back in a position that is allowing the offense to possibly be able to get back on him. He was asking me questions about that and I was trying to give him pointers that will allow him to, once he beats a guy, keep that guy beat.”

Floyd concurred with Robison’s assessment, saying that he needs to keep working on his technique and finishing plays.

“Lately, I’ve been winning and then at the top I would make the wrong move or turn my body the wrong way, which gives the offensive lineman the position to get back on me to block me, so it was just more so me finishing at the top of my rush,” Floyd said of his extra work with Robison.

Floyd said he has also watched a little film of Geno Atkins in Cincinnati to see what the coaching staff wants in certain situations. However, he cautioned that he will do things his way, not the way Atkins has found success with the Bengals.

Last year, Floyd had a relatively mild impact, garnering 29 tackles, including 7½ for a loss, 2½ sacks, four passes broken up and seven quarterback hurries in 459 snaps played, according to NFL data.

He won’t say how many sacks he hopes to get this year, but says his goal is to get “enough.”

“Obviously, I think we have confidence in him and his abilities,” Robison said. “He’ll get the pads on and we’ll be able to see a bit more about him, but the thing we like about him is his willingness to learn, but also he has great explosiveness for his size. He can run and really that’s going to be a good thing for us because if you have a defensive tackle like that that can get up the field like Kevin Williams was with us for so many years, that allows defensive ends to play off of him and maybe come underneath. If he’s bull-rushing a guy, have a little shorter edge to get to the quarterback. If he can do that to give us those opportunities on the edge to do that in the middle for us it will be a good thing for our defense.”

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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