Andre Patterson's process for teaching new players the Vikings' defensive line techniques includes a video breakdown of position-by-position techniques that goes back nearly 25 years.
"Well, I've got John Randle on there. I've got Leon Lett on there," said Patterson, the Vikings assistant head coach. "I can go on and on. I've got Henry Thomas on there."
Patterson also has Sheldon Richardson on there, from his 2018 season with the Vikings. When the team brought Richardson back from Cleveland for another stint in Minnesota on a one-year, $3 million deal, Patterson needed time to reintroduce the defensive tackle to how the Vikings rush the quarterback and play blockers. Once he put on the tape, it didn't take long for Richardson to reintegrate himself.
"When we're watching the tape, I'll be able to say, 'Hey, that's you. Right? So you know how to do it. So you can't fool me,'" Patterson said. "So that helps a lot. I can't do that with a rookie. I can't do that if it's a free agent who's never been here before. So him making the change to go back and do it the way we do it here is a lot easier because he's done it before."
Richardson posted 4 1⁄2 sacks and 47 pressures with the Vikings in 2018, reaching totals he hadn't hit since 2015 with the Jets. He had 4 1⁄2 sacks and 51 pressures in Cleveland last year, and as soon as he got approval from the Vikings front office to call Richardson when the Vikings were trying to sign him in June, it didn't take long for Patterson to pick up the phone.
"Because of the rules, I had to wait for our people to tell me it was OK for me to call Sheldon, so even though our people were talking to his people, I just couldn't pick up the phone and call him, even though that's what I wanted to do," Patterson said. "When they gave me the OK to call him and I finally called him on the phone, he was happy to hear my voice and happy to know that I wanted him back because he knows that he was very productive here and he's told other people that. It wasn't a big sell from me to tell him we wanted him to come back here and play."
Weatherly brings flexibility to new role
The Vikings have experimented with a number of different roles for their defensive ends, asking them to stand up and drop into coverage as they've tried out unorthodox alignments. That's been no issue for Stephen Weatherly in his second stint with the Vikings. He finished his college career as a linebacker at Vanderbilt and rushed from a standing position occasionally as he played a bigger role in 2018 and 2019 with the Vikings.
"We already knew he could do it because we had him in that role when he was here before," Patterson said. "And obviously Danielle [Hunter] has the ability to do that, and now we're looking at the young cats to see if they have the ability to do that. It's all about me finding out what a guy can and cannot do and then trying to put him in the best position for him to be successful."
Ever the polymath, Weatherly took up glass-blowing several years ago and appeared on the Netflix show "Blown Away" as a guest judge earlier this year. Before training camp, he said, he finished his first commission, completing about 40 pieces of artwork for a client.
"It all got wrapped up before training camp," he said. "So, good things in the glass-blowing community."
McCardell teaches from experience
New receivers coach Keenan McCardell's stories from his 17-year playing career — which saw him finish with the 24th-most receptions in NFL history (883) after being selected in the 12th round in 1991 — earn him some grief, and the occasional fine, from the Vikings' current receivers.
"We call it the 'Living in the Past' fine,'" Adam Thielen said. "He was talking about one game where he had three touchdowns so we had to give him a little fine, a little 'ding' for living in the past. But we enjoy when he brings up some of that stuff because, it's just experience. It's just like me when I talk to the young guys. Coming from experience, they can use it how they want to, but it's fun to be able to share it and talk about it and we still like to have fun with it, too."
McCardell is in his ninth coaching season — seven in the NFL, two in college — since his playing days ended. That he's done it that long after 17 years in the NFL has impressed Thielen, as well.
"You don't play 17 years in the league if you don't love football. You just don't," Thielen said. "I don't care who you are. And you also don't get into coaching after playing 17 years if you don't love teaching and coaching. We're very blessed and lucky to have him."