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 mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Joseph's favorite nose tackle? Pat Williams

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: March 12, 2014 - 4:25 PM

New Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph hasn't won a game yet, but he did win some Upper Midwest public relations style points when asked during his introductory news conference which nose tackle he looked up to as a younger man.

"I watched Pat [Williams]," said Joseph, referring to the former Viking, whose last season [2010] was Joseph's rookie season with the Giants. "Pat's a physical guy. He loved to slam guys, so I watched him a lot. And [John] Henderson [formerly] from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a big guy, bigger than everybody else, too. Nice, strong, physical guy, and he moved pretty well on his feet."

Asked what he liked most about Williams, Joseph said, "His attitude. He wanted to be better. He wanted to show everybody that he was good, he still had it. He wanted to show he was an all-time great. He had something to prove from where he started to where he finished."

With Williams anchoring the "Williams Wall" along with under tackle Kevin Williams, the Vikings led the NFL in run defense three consecutive years (2006 to 2008) and reached the NFC title game during the 2009 season. Williams' play fell off because of age in 2010, and the Vikings haven't had a strong run defense ever since.

They hope to change that with new head coach Mike Zimmer and Joseph, who was targeted as the team's top free agent priority and was signed to a five-year, $31.5 million deal on the first day of free agency.

"I have size, I have speed, I have smarts and I make plays," Joseph said. "At the end of the day, that's what this game is about. Making plays."

Unlike Pat Williams, Joseph says he's not a trash talker. But the 6-4, 328-pounder said there are some similarities between the two of them. He also said he hopes to add some more.

"Just making plays," Joseph said. "Pat made a lot of plays as a Viking. He's loved around here. I just want to be the same way."

Although he says he doesn't talk trash, Joseph sounds like a confident guy. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Giants in his second season and was quick to add that, "The first one was big, but the second one will be bigger."

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