By Joseph Gunther
CBS Local Sports presents 32 Players in 32 Days, a daily feature focusing on one impact player from each NFL team.
Name: Sharrif Floyd - DT - #73
Weight: 305 lbs.
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Experience: 2nd season
The Minnesota Vikings have a history of having good defensive tackles. It started with Gary Larsen (played for the Vikings from 1965 to 1974) and Alan Page (1967-1978) and continued through James White (1976-1983), Keith Millard (1985-1990), Henry Thomas (1987-1994), John Randle (1990-2000) Chris Hovan (2000-2004) and most recently Kevin Williams (2003-2013) and Pat Williams (2005-2010).
Sharrif Floyd hopes to continue the tradition as the expected starter next to free agent signee Linval Joseph. However, the second-year defensive tackle doesn't take for granted the fact that he is likely going to start.
"No, I go into it thinking I'm going to work." Floyd said in March via Fox Sports North. "We're going to work. I'm not worrying about down the road right now. Let's worry about now. Let's get better, let's lift, let's run and let's get ready for the season."
Floyd saw Williams as more than just a co-worker during their one season together with the Vikings. It is quite apparent that Floyd learned a few things from Williams and is trying to emulate the way he plays.
"Of course, here or not, he's still a friend of mine," Floyd said about Williams in March via Fox Sports North. "He's Kevin Williams and he's going to be a Hall of Famer someday, so of course I'll miss him."
Floyd finished his rookie season with 19 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two passes defensed in 16 games, including one start. His development was slowed during the preseason a year ago when he suffered a knee injury. He was having a solid game against the Houston Texans at Mall of America Field when he got hit in the legs from behind.
Floyd had an up-and-down season, prompting experts to wonder what his potential is going to be. Some have said his short arms will limit him to being a rotational player, while others believe that his quickness will make him a top tier starter.
In order to be in the best possible shape of his life coming into training camp this season, Floyd stopped eating meat and as a result dropped 25 pounds in a few weeks. Lowering his weight has been a positive so far.
"I changed a lot of things this offseason," Floyd said at the conclusion of a Fuel Up to Play 60 Reward Summit at Winter Park in April. "I stopped eating meat. I started eating just seafood and really focusing on my diet, and everything leads into what I do on Sunday. [Giving up meat was] really hard. I lived off pork. I thought pork made the world go around.
"That was just me (making the decision). Do I want to keep putting this stuff in my body or do I want to get right? So I decided to give up things that I love that are not really good for me right now. My body feels great. I've been telling people my body hasn't felt this way since I first started playing football."
When the Vikings selected Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes with the 23rd and 25th picks, general manager Rick Spielman was shocked to have both players available that late in the first round. Both players were expected to be taken a lot higher in the draft (Floyd as high as third overall and Rhodes in the early teens).
"I went through a thousand scenarios at the 23rd and 25th pick and I can tell you honestly he was not in one of those scenarios," Spielman said after the draft about Floyd. "So for him to fall down to our lap, there were some conversations as well to potentially even move up. But as the names kept falling off the board, we had more than enough options to just sit there and let everything fall to us. And when Sharrif fell to us, it was something that was very unexpected."
The Vikings now hope that Floyd's new trimmer figure and diet turn into a productive defensive tackle that dons the team's jersey for many years to come.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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