Wootton hoping for repeat role with Vikings

Corey Wootton was a role player in the Vikings’ defensive line rotation and is hoping to keep that role again in 2015. But there is up-and-coming competition.

Defensive end Corey Wootton was signed during the offseason last year to a one-year deal. Although he didn’t have a huge role on the Minnesota Vikings defense, he did play an important one.

Wootton was one of the players who rotated in on the defensive line to give the starters a break. Rotating the defensive line and keeping players fresh is an important part of head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense, which meant that Wootton had an important job.

Wootton was part of a large overhaul of free agents that the Vikings brought in this past season – 13 total. He played in 15 of the Vikings’ 16 games and amassed 27 tackles and one sack. That sack came in the final game of the season, and you could tell that he was excited to finally get it as he began to do the robot dance as a celebration.

“Yeah, I had that for awhile,” he said. “It was a perfect scenario against my old team, being able to get a sack and just a big play and I wanted to make a little dance out of it.”

Wootton is at the point in his career where he has been around for a while and has played in a lot of games, but at the age of 27 he is still a relatively young player. He still will be able to play for years to come, as he has only been in the NFL for five seasons and wants to be able to spend his time playing in Minnesota for Zimmer.

“I definitely would like to be back here,” Wootton said. “I don’t know what their plans are as far as bringing me back or whatever, but I’d love to be here and I like the direction the organization’s going and Coach Zimmer and the defensive staff, I think it’s on the up.”

One thing that could be hurting his chances of getting re-signed with the Vikings is the presence of one of the Vikings’ 2014 draft picks in Scott Crichton. He was a third-round pick but didn’t see the field much, which was a bit odd as third-rounders usually are able to find contributing roles early in their careers and the Vikings were able to utilize a lot of their rookies last season.

Even though Crichton didn’t get a lot of playing time in 2014, there are still high hopes for him, and he is planning on working hard this offseason and increase his role.

“I was expecting to play,” Crichton said. “I just got to do more, I got to work harder, do everything right, and I got to get better in the offseason.”

An odd twist to this scenario, if Crichton does take Wootton’s role on defense next year, is that Wootton helped Crichton work on his craft. Most days after practice you could see the two of them staying late with one or both of the defensive line coaches and working on their pass-rush technique.

With an offseason of not knowing what will happen in front of him, Wootton is just hopeful that he will get to remain a Viking. He likes the players, the coaching staff, and he was even happy with his role on the team – even though it was a limited one. All he can do for now, though, is work and wait in the offseason.

“I’ve had a great time playing here,” Wootton said. “I’m looking forward to going into this offseason healthy and working on my craft and just getting better.”

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