Newman not ready to cede starting streak

Terence Newman is ready to compete for a starting role, despite the presence of first-round pick Trae Waynes. So far, Newman has been getting the first-team reps and talked about his experience while joking about coaches, GMs and his age.

In just under seven minutes, Terence Newman talked about Mike Zimmer’s decreased use of profanity, called physically fit general manager Rick Spielman “Arnold Schwartzenegger,” used the term “Holy guacamole,” likely in an attempt to limit his own profanity, and joked about everyone on the team being younger than him.

Spielman/Schwarteneggar and Mike Zimmer can only hope Newman is still as good on the field as he has been, and as he still is during interviews.

Newman signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal with $750,000 in guarantees with the Minnesota Vikings in March, one of many indications that he will be a key contributor, if not a starter, in the secondary this year.

“You just come in and compete. If you compete at a high level, you do what you’re supposed to do, obviously everything else takes care of itself,” Newman said after the team’s second day of minicamp. “I think everybody’s mentality is just come here and compete and show what you have, and everything else takes care of itself. It’s no different than a guy looking for a contract, or playing the last year of his contract looking for a contract. If you compete and make plays, everything takes care of itself. So that’s what my mindset and mentality is when I got here.”

So far, he is being given every chance to start for his 13th straight NFL season. Throughout the offseason practices, he has been working with the first-team defense as the left cornerback ahead of rookie first-round pick Trae Waynes.

Newman will turn 37 before the Vikings’ season starts, and this is his first season in Minnesota after spending his first nine seasons in Dallas and the last three with the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s been a career that has largely followed Zimmer.

But his desire to join the Vikings stretched beyond that coach-player relationship. He also likes what he saw in the defensive potential with the Vikings.

“I got to see them a little bit on tape last year. I think I watched New Orleans a little bit. I think we also saw some of the New England game before we played them. There were a couple games where you saw – Tampa Bay, last year I think they played the week before – so seeing what these guys were doing in the first year (with Zimmer), it was impressive,” Newman said. “Of course I know Zim and I know what to expect. For me, that was important as well, to be able to just go in and know that I’m going to get the best coaching. Coach (Jerry) Gray is an excellent coach and he’s great with the secondary. For me, that’s personal. I want to be the best player I can be. Don’t care how old I am, but I just want to go out and compete and be the best.”

His experience has shown in front of the coaching staff.

“Terence is a true pro. What he adds to the room as far as confidence, as far as a calmness, as far as guys being able to reach out to him for information, those type of deals, he’s a true pro,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “First time he gets something. If he doesn’t get it, then you don’t have to worry about it. He won’t make the same mistake again. From that aspect of it, his work ethic and younger guys seeing that work ethic, and see how he comes out here and applies things from the classroom to the field is an advantage.”

Newman has started all but two games he has played in his 12-year career and his high-level play and familiarity with Zimmer’s scheme were two reasons the Vikings came calling when he didn’t immediately re-sign with the Bengals during free agency this year.

Whether Newman starts or Waynes earns the job by the start of the regular season, the Vikings will have a solid mix of young and old – or as Newman pointed out about himself, oldest.

“Well, hell, everybody’s younger. C’mon now,” Newman joked when asked about younger players asking for advice. “I get questions. I have Jalil Carter text me and ask me some stuff. We talk a little bit in the group meetings and just talk about different things that I’ve been through since I’ve been in this defense for a while. I can just give them my knowledge and tell them what I think and how I usually play something and move on from there.”

As for Waynes, Newman says he doesn’t need to teach him speed or change of direction because Waynes already has that. Techniques and tips, however, have been flowing from old veteran to young prospect.

“I think he’s going to be really good. Obviously it’s early. You’re going to have growing pains. It happens to every DB as a rookie,” Newman said of Waynes. “But I think he’s got a very high ceiling. Very talented, and he’s capable of doing a lot of things. He’s learning the slot. Obviously he can play corner. Great change of direction. Great speed and he’s got great length. I think he’s going to be a really good player.”

Whether he’ll be good enough soon enough to edge out Newman from his 12-year streak of starting is yet to be seen. Either way, the Vikings should be the beneficiary of Newman’s experience.


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