Sharper, Vikings Need To Prove It

Safety Darren Sharper wants to prove he's not in the sunset of his career, and he wants his new teammates with the Vikings to prove that their defense can look even better on the field than they do on paper. Plus, find out if the Vikings are planning more changes on defense.

Free safety Darren Sharper might not be in the prime of his career anymore, but the former Packer is determined to prove he can still play at a high level now that he's on the other side of this heated rivalry.

"Every time you step out there there's going to be pressure," Sharper said. "You have to go out there and play. Looking good on paper isn't going to win any games."

Sharper is coming off an injury-plagued season. He claims to have come back too early from a knee injury, which made it worse and affected his play.

The Packers wanted to keep him, but were forced to release him because of salary cap reasons. Two days later, the longtime Packer signed with the Vikings and slipped on a purple jersey for the first time as a pro.

"I think it looks good on me," Sharper said. "The purple and gold definitely looks good."

Sharper also likes the look of the Vikings' revamped defense. Sharper is one of at least five new starters that was added to last year's 28th-ranked defense.

"It's going to be fun playing with these guys," Sharper said. "If you look at us on paper, we're probably one of the most talented defenses in the league. But, again, that doesn't mean anything. You have to prove it."

Playing for Green Bay, Sharper said he watched the Vikings closely as they struggled defensively in recent years.

"I think a lot of the things last year were inexperience and youth," Sharper said. "With the additions we have, with the experience, we should knock some of that inconsistency out."

TRAINING CAMP CALENDAR: Reporting day, July 29; Intra-squad scrimmage, 8-9:30 p.m., Aug. 5, Minnesota State, Mankato Stadium; Intra-squad passing scrimmage, 8:30-9:30 p.m., Aug. 9, Minnesota State, Mankato Stadium; Intra-squad passing scrimmage, 8-9:30 p.m., Aug. 16, Minnesota State, Mankato Stadium.


  • Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell has far more talent on the defensive line than he does at linebacker. But if Sam Cowart and E.J. Henderson both excel in training camp, it's possible the Vikings will tinker with a 3-4 defense. "We'll find ways to get the best linebackers on the field," Cottrell said. "We might run some 3-4."

    The 3-4, which is becoming increasingly popular among NFL teams, won't be the Vikings' base defense this season.

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