Stephen back after shadowing Floyd

Vikings defensive tackle Shamar Stephen shadowed Sharrif Floyd while out with injury, looking to improve certain aspects of his own game.

After a rookie season where he was able to make an impact and even start in some games, Shamar Stephen didn’t start out training camp the way he would have liked. He had to miss the first couple of days with an injury, but was able to get back on the field for the team’s fourth day of practice on Wednesday.

Even though he couldn’t participate in practice during the first three days, he didn’t want to fall behind the other players. He started to follow around Sharrif Floyd in the position drills. He would watch and learn from him, taking mental reps and following Floyd’s hand motions with his own.

“I was just trying to be involved and stay focused mentally because I was not there these past couple of days, and just get my mental reps in,” he said. “Then be able to come out here and physically perform.”

Like Stephen, Floyd is still a very young player, but he was able to become a dominant force in the middle of the line during the 2014 season. Stephen was able to see that there was a lot that he could learn from Floyd so he figured he would try to do just that while he was out with an injury.

“He’s a great player, great pass rusher, plays the run very well, so just looking at the details,” Stephen said. “His power steps, his technique, the way he comes off the ball, the way he engages with the O-lineman, it was a great tool for me to look at and learn from.”

Stephen was only following Floyd around for a couple of days, but he feels as though he was able to pick up on some helpful techniques. The second-year defensive tackle is still getting ahold of them since this was his first day back in practice, but he hopes they can help him out by the time the regular season roles around.

“Definitely,” Stephen said when asked if he learned anything helpful. “I am still working on it since it was my first day back, but I’m just trying to play, trying to improve my game just to make the defense better.”

It seems as though the biggest thing Stephen wants to take away from his time following Floyd is his ability to pass rush from the middle of the field. Floyd recorded 4½ sacks last year, which doesn’t seem like a lot but you also have to throw in the fact that he was hurt and missed multiple games.

Stephen, on the other hand, played in all 16 games and did not record a single sack, so improving that area of his game will be important to him this offseason. But that isn’t the only thing he is focused on. He wants to be a good all-around player.

“I’m improving on my pass rush, still trying to be technically sound on the run,” he said, “and working every day to be better.”

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