Brian Peters is nothing if not persistent. The former Big Ten standout at Northwestern spent time with Iowa of the Arena Football League and Saskatchewan of the Canadian Football League before signing with the Vikings in February. He’s hoping to make the team as a linebacker and special teams contributor, and this week the 6-4, 235-pound Peters took time to chat with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q What are you hoping to make of this opportunity, and in what role do you think you are best suited to stick on this roster?
A I’m just going to keep working at what I do every day, getting better at linebacker and working like a dog on special teams. To get your foot in the door in this league, you have to be an efficient and consistent special teams player, so that’s what I’m shooting to be. As far as defense, I just want to hone my linebacker craft and be fast and physical there as well.
Q You’ve played both safety and linebacker in your career. Is there a preference, and how much do the positions relate to one another?
A There are definitely a lot of similarities. I played safety in college and I played primarily linebacker up in Canada. But up in Canada it’s more of a hybrid position. You play against the pass a lot more because there are only three downs. It’s just a different game, but I’m a linebacker now, 100 percent. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. I think I’m built for the position, and I fit in really well from a physical and mental standpoint.
Q You’re clearly not afraid to work based on the route you took to get here. What is it like to grind it out in some of those other leagues?
A I’m not going to say it was easy, but it just took persistence and a lot of hard work. It takes discipline to know what you want and go after it. I’m blessed to have this opportunity.
Q You won a Grey Cup up in Canada. What was the experience up there like?
A It is a different game. The strategy changes because of three downs. It’s a bigger field, and there’s a yard between the line of scrimmage so it changes your rush angle. If you take a bad step you’re three steps behind instead of one. But it definitely honed my pass-covering skills because covering someone up there is like trying to cover someone in a Wal-Mart parking lot. It makes it tough. And special teams are a huge part of the game because with three downs there are constantly punts and punt returns. You have to be very versatile, and that might have made me more marketable down here.
Q How did Canada treat you?
A I have some stories. But it was awesome, and the cities we played in were amazing. I was in Regina, Saskatchewan, which is plains country, a lot of oil riggers and farmers. It’s a great city and they love their football. It’s their main sport in the whole province, so they bleed green and white. … But the Grey Cup year, two of the last three games were like minus-15 and minus-18 Fahrenheit. It was rough. I played those games with no sleeves to let [Canadiens] know the USA can hold its own in the cold.