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.