Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Chase Minnifield proud of dad's influence, could be good fit for Vikings

Posted by: under Vikings Updated: February 28, 2012 - 10:30 AM

Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield may be a bit under the radar in terms of pre-draft buzz. The consensus analysis is that he does a lot of things well but nothing extraordinary. And his combine performance Tuesday won’t likely change that perception. But Minnifield, whose dad Frank was a standout for the Browns in the late 1980s, has a good understanding of the game and could be the kind of player who would help stabilize a Vikings secondary that has numerous holes to plug.

If the Vikings consider drafting Minnifield early in the second round, they’ll certainly be impressed by his confident and easygoing demeanor. Minnifield’s visit with reporters over the weekend at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis was refreshing.

Here are highlights of what the Virginia defensive back had to say:

On his father’s impact …
My father has always been a big influence for me in how I play, how I act, and just my day-to-day routines. I grew up around him. And he’s taught me pretty much everything I know about the game. He’s a big influence in how I play and how I carry myself. I don’t try to play like him. I’m a different player. I’m a finesse player. And you have to understand that the game has changed a lot since my dad played. I can’t play exactly the way he played. But as far as being a physical, in-your-face kind of corner, I guess you can say I play like him. I try to emulate that.

On being aggressive and reliable in run support …
That’s just a mindset. It’s a mindset that you’re going to put your face in there. I’m not the biggest corner, not the strongest corner. But one thing I bring is I’m not afraid of any contact.

On following in the footsteps of recent University of Virginia cornerbacks Ras-I Dowling and Chris Cook, who both were drafted early …
I feel I’m going to make an impact in the league wherever I go. … Ras-I was a great guy. He’s a wonderful person who cares about his teammates a lot. I think he’s going to be a great player and surprise a lot of people next year. Me, Chris and Ras-I pushed each other. They were the big guys and that pushed me to try to get where they were. We competed against each other. Stats, workouts, in general. The years we were together, we fed off each other’s energy. … Chris Cook is a great guy. He’s one of the best talents I’ve been around. He knows the game. And what really stands out is his physical ability, his stature. And the game comes easy to him.

On the best advice his dad has given him …
Never let people outwork you. His work ethic was passed down to me. I’m a big believe that hard work is the key. You get out what you put in. And if you don’t know my dad’s story, he’s a [former] walk-on guy who turned into a four-time Pro Bowler. So he was a big-time hard work guy. And he passed that down to me.

On his advanced football IQ and desire to study the game …
From what I’m hearing teams know that I know the game. Football is what I’ve grown up around. I don’t ever get tired of it. It’s engrained in my life. … I watch a lot of film, probably four hours a day during the season. And I use my laptop and Microsoft Excel to help. My dad’s taught me a lot. And that’s one of the things he’s taught me, to prepare. [I use Excel] as a way of breaking down the film and helping me to sort things.

On what he’d be doing if he wasn’t playing football …
I can’t see myself not playing football. I can’t even see it. The football was in my cradle. That’s all I’ve ever really done.

On being asked a lot about his dad’s legacy …
I enjoy it. Because my dad is what I would call a true rags to riches story if you really followed him. What he’s doing now from where he came from, he’s a true inspiration. You can’t knock him. Nothing was ever given to him. You have to respect that.

On vowing to be better than his dad …
I told my mom a long time ago that I wanted to play football. And I remember one day my dad getting mad at me because I told him I was going to quit playing football. I wanted to play football. That’s what I told him. I wanted to play football professionally. He gave me a long talk and just made sure I knew what I was doing. And I was OK with that. … He just knew that the physicality of this game is going to wear on you. He’s been through it. And he wanted me to know that the decision I was making, he’d been through it. And he knows what the physical effect is going to be. Baseball or golf would have definitely been a smarter decision. But this is what I want to do.

On who he studies in the NFL …
I study [Darrelle] Revis a lot. He’s the best corner by far in the league. I don’t even think it’s close.


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