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Sharrif Floyd comfortable, confident in second year under Zimmer

Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, when he was healthy enough to be on the field, quietly had a pretty strong second season with the Vikings.

Floyd made 42 tackles in 2014 and his 4.5 sacks were second to Tom Johnson among Vikings defensive tackles. Not bad for a guy who missed two games due to injury and was knocked out of a couple others early.

This year, Floyd has showed up in Mankato with increased confidence, and his play so far has garnered positive reviews from coach Mike Zimmer.

“I’m impressed with where he’s gone from the time that I first saw him last year,” Zimmer said. “He’s improved quite a bit. His quickness, the way he’s changed his body, his quickness. And now he’s started to be much more confident. I don’t know that he was very confident when I first got here.”

Floyd feels that Zimmer’s assessment is fair. During last year’s camp, he was trying to get used to a new coaching staff, new teammates, his new physique — and the fact that it was going to be his first season as a starter.

“[I'm] extremely comfortable. I had all last year to learn the system, learn what [Zimmer] needed. Now we’re building off of that,” said Floyd, one of PFF’s highest-graded DTs in 2014. “We’re deeper into a conversation where we’re learning the game instead of just being told what to do.”

Floyd said the feedback from Zimmer and defensive line coach Andre Patterson is critical because he always wants to know where he stands.

“I feel like they know they can say anything to me and express it however they want,” the 24-year-old said. “But I just need them to tell me if I’m doing good, doing bad and things like that, so I can improve.”

Since he craves feedback, Floyd surely noticed early in the offseason when Zimmer challenged him to stay healthy, saying that “the NFL is a big man’s game.” Right now, though, Zimmer has nothing but praise for Floyd.

“He’s working very, very hard and he’s doing a good job,” Zimmer said.

Turner: Harris has looked "surprisingly good" in transition to guard

Some highlights from offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s press conference not long ago …

– Turner opened his press conference with, um, breaking news. “Just a sport update,” he said. “The Vikings employee softball team got beat last night. Couple of the players are here. I think they got mercy-ruled. And one of our equipment guys, Terrell [Barnes], got run over at third base by a girl, they say. That’s the sports update, if you missed it.” The team, which calls itself “I’d Hit That” and is sponsored by long-snapper Cullen Loeffler’s Minnesota Ice company, plays in the Bloomington Co-Ed League. The team is made up of players from all departments, but primarily the team’s media relations staff. “I’d just like to say we weren’t mercy-ruled,” said Jon Ekstrom, public relations manager. “There was a time limit. We scored four runs to keep from getting mercy-ruled.” Eckstrom also said throw out the first inning — 11 runs allowed and six errors — and it the Vikings actually win the game 9-7.

– Turner said Mike Harris has looked “surprisingly good” in his transition to right guard. Harris was a career tackle until a freak injury situation forced him to finish last year’s Buffalo game at right guard. The Vikings are giving him the first crack at winning the right guard position in camp. “It’s tough for a guy his size, his length, in there,” Turner said. “But he’s going against good players and I think he’d doing well. He’s gradually getting his pad level down. He can’t play too high in there because you’re going to play against big guys all the time.”

– Turner was asked who quarterback Teddy Bridgewater reminds him of. He didn’t go down that road (hey, the guy is a veteran and he knows that if he throws out a name such as Drew Brees or whomever, it’s going to be a storyline the entire year that Turner compared Teddy to someone like a Drew Brees). But Turner did have something interesting to say about Bridgewater. “The thing that surprised me the most about Teddy last year was his mobility,” Turner said. “Because it didn’t really show up in his college tape. But it certainly showed up in our tapes.”

– Turner said receiver Cordarrelle Patterson “is playing faster,” which is understandable because “this is the first time he’s had [the same] back-to-back systems in five years.”

– Turner said the biggest advantage of having five preseason games as opposed to four is having more chances to evaluate the offensive line. “Offensively, certainly our biggest deal is finding the young linemen who are going to function and play the best in games,” Turner said.

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