Last year provided a season of firsts for Naufahu Tahi. He became a starter in the NFL for the first time and he became the first Vikings fullback to block for the NFL rushing leader.
In one month, Tahi could be tallying another first – his first time as a free agent – but he doesn't believe it will come to that.
"Talking with the coaches, I think it looks pretty good from what they're saying. I'm hoping to stay and be around this team and organization, and my family really likes being up there," Tahi told Viking Update this week.
If he does sign a multi-year contract or is tendered a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent before free agency opens on Feb. 27, it would be the continued transformation of a combination back in college to more of a pure fullback in the NFL.
"I'm very comfortable in this offense. I'm happy with what I'm doing. It's a lot similar to the offense I played in at BYU – I did a little bit of lead blocking, but not too much," Tahi said. "Whenever we went to a two-back set, it was me and a tailback, Curtis Brown, but we were both pretty much the running back – sometimes he'd lead for me, or depending on the play, I'd block for him. But I'm comfortable with this offense, being the lead blocker and catching a few balls."
Tahi didn't exactly turn into a prolific pass-catcher in the mold of some fullbacks in the West Coast offense this year. He caught 16 passes for 37 yards (a 2.3-yard average), but he seemed content with that part of his game.
"I've had a good amount of catches," he said in December. "There were a few this year that I should have caught that I dropped. As far as catches, I'm pretty happy with as many balls as I've caught. I just try to do what I can with them."
With NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson behind him at tailback, Tahi's main role with the team is that of a lead blocker. The more experience he gathers as a pure blocking back the more comfortable he has gotten with the Vikings offense.
"Yeah, I've gotten comfortable with the system. The more and more experience I get with it, the better feel I get for it," he said. "I love being here. I enjoy being in Minnesota, playing for this organization and having a good time. I hope it works out."
If it does, he can continue to work on his overall game, which included helping on special teams – he had two kickoff returns, five special-teams tackles and one fumble recovery – and even learning other positions on offense, just in case he would be needed.
"There are a few things here and there, but as far as the basics and the core of the offense, I think I have most of it down. I've been trying to learn both the fullback and the tailback stuff just in case something would happen. And if anything were to happen with the tight ends, I've been trying to learn some of that stuff too. I feel comfortable where I'm at right now, as far as the offense goes," he said.
And it's sounding as if he'll have at least another offseason in purple to continue the progression.
Tahi talks free agency
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