Lurtsema's Reaction: Players to Enjoy

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema just wants to see the players perform and doesn't want to hear about too much pressure being placed on them. See what the former defensive end had to say about several recent draft picks of the Vikings.

VU: During the OTA and minicamp sessions that you saw, was there anybody that you thought was a nice sleeper pick – somebody in the late rounds or even an undrafted free agent that you were really impressed with?

BL: You know, a guy I watched for was that Brian Robison. When you watch somebody like Brian Robison from Texas, you watch his body language, and say what you want but body language tells an awful lot about a ballplayer. The way he picks himself up, the way he carries himself, he's always on the go. He's got a tremendous work ethic, and if you've got work ethic, you have a greater chance to be successful. When I'm watching defensive linemen, I'm watching their stance, how quickly they get off the ball, how low they come out, is their head down low enough, are their hands in the proper position because not all draft choices do that. I mentioned it a few times before, but I watched (1986 first-round defensive end) Gerald Robinson for five minutes and said, ‘He can't use his hands. He's not a good pass rusher.' Sure enough, they said, ‘Well, we have to teach him how to pass rush.' You can't teach how to pass rush. That comes with instinct. I'm going to watch Robison awfully close.

As far as Adrian Peterson goes, they don't want to put too much pressure on him. He's already picked to be rookie of the year. You can tell all the media people who haven't played the game, it's not about pressure. People who haven't played the game overreact to that. It's just another day at the office if you have the right attitude, you are the complete package and a winner. The pressure is not going to get to you. Your personal pride will push you. That's not pressure, and these media people that think that personal pride and trying to attain the maximum from your abilities is pressure, please, I don't want you to write it, I don't want anyone to write it about pressure on Peterson. I think he's going to do the job because he has the tools.

VU: Wouldn't you want them to believe in you and want them to think they can count on you?

BL: I don't really care if they're going to count on me when I come in because all I want to do is be sure I'm giving them everything I have so that I can feel confident I paid them back for believing in me. I understand your question and I understand your direction, but I don't necessarily agree with it. I want to show them that they didn't make a mistake. I have enough personal pride that I want to say, ‘Hey, you did the right thing by me. Thank you very much.' Maybe the attitude has changed. In the old days, we were just thankful to have a job and we appreciated everything that the owners did for us. What you just said, a lot of people look at it that way. The attitude you had, that's a great compliment that they read you the right way. If they wanted to count on you to do more, your attitude got them to believe in you to such a degree that they feel comfortable to say, ‘We want you to do this or want you to do that.' It's probably the ultimate compliment.

VU: Going back to last year's draft, there was a guy that had to prove to you that he was worth it. What's your opinion of Ray Edwards now and has it changed at all since he was drafted last year?

BL: Ray Edwards, they kind of like him, but he's still on a roller-coaster ride. He's got the talent and tools. I watch him and one day he's looking really good and then I'll see him make some rookie mistakes which he hadn't done earlier. He's still on a roller-coaster ride. He has got all the potential, but there are a lot of players who have potential. You'll see it in high school sometimes where a player has potential as a sophomore to make a college team and his potential shows up at times. Too many people leave their careers saying, ‘Well, he had potential.' I still watch him and they like him and want to use him a little bit more, but what's holding them back? The roller-coaster. He's got to be a little more predictable.

VU: About Chad Greenway. Do you see a difference in him this spring versus last summer before he got hurt? What's your confidence level in his ability?

BL: Chad Greenway hasn't changed a bit. He came in the total package last year. He rehabbed the knee and went through a terrible, terrible first year and carried himself very high, very professionally the whole time he was here. Watching him now on the practice field, he screws around and they're laughing out there – God, I love seeing that. They screw off and do something and then they chuckle about it, that's what it's all about. During the season, he was doing some KFAN radio broadcasting and I enjoyed listening to him there and watching him grow there, and then at practice he's still hustling, he's still first and then I see him laughing with his head back and I'm saying, ‘That's the way to enjoy it.' It's a great game and he's enjoying. Nothing has changed. I think they've got the total package there.

Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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