Scott Crichton caught the attention of Vikings teammates and coaches from offseason workouts into minicamp. The defensive end looks more comfortable, and bigger, this offseason than he did as a rookie last year.
The Vikings have mixed him in at defensive tackle along with defensive end during organized team activities and minicamp, including reps as the three-technique tackle again Wednesday. Crichton’s physique looks noticeably different, as he has increased his weight from 260 pounds to 275.
“That’s what I’m trying to do is get stronger, faster, bigger because I’m going to be playing defensive end and some three-technique,” Crichton said. “Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do.”
Crichton was unable to participate during OTAs last year because of an NFL rule that forced underclassmen rookies that did not graduate to finish the school year before they could rejoin the team. With Oregon State on a quarters system, Crichton participated in rookie minicamp but didn’t return to Winter Park until minicamp.
Crichton was inactive for most of the season as he tried to catch up to the rest of the team. The Vikings haven’t practiced in pads yet, but defensive coordinator George Edwards said Crichton looks more comfortable with the defensive calls so far.
“The one thing we really liked about him coming out was just how hard he played, the effort he played with and that’s transferred now,” Edwards said. “He’s played outside at defensive end, inside at tackle. Now he’s not thinking about his assignments. He’s really lining up and being able to play all-out.”
Patterson in mix
Cordarrelle Patterson has worked with the second team for most of OTAs and minicamp, but offensive coordinator Norv Turner said the wide receiver still is viewed as a possible starter.
“He’s in the mix,” Turner said. “I told our guys that when we start our games I hope we have 16 starters. You can only put 11 on the field at a time. But if we can get to where we are playing multiple people and giving defenses different looks and we have a lot of people contributing, it makes us much harder to defend.”
Turner believes Patterson has had a good offseason after a disappointing sophomore season. He was benched and replaced by Charles Johnson during the 2014 season at the “X” receiver and finished with 33 catches for 384 yards and a touchdown.
During the first two days of Vikings minicamp, several players, including Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, Mike Wallace, Jarius Wright and Patterson, have worn chrome-tinted visors.
While the tint helps on sunny days, players admit the futuristic looking apparel is more for style.
“We’re just trying to get out here and spice it up a little bit,” Wright said. “Just have something new out here for us to keep things fun and interesting.”
Since a 1998 NFL rule prohibiting players from wearing tinted visors, only players who receive medical clearance are allowed to wear them during regular-season games. Defensive end Brian Robison has a medical clearance to wear a tinted visor during the regular season.
Wallace said he has worn visors since high school. He wears tinted visors during warmups during the regular season but switches to a clear visor during the game.
“It’s a little swag, it’s a little swag,” Wallace said. “Coach [Mike Zimmer] is letting us do a little something fun as long as it’s not messing up our playing.”
Creating an identity
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer’s message all spring has been to instill the same team identity on special teams. He said Zimmer has hounded on establishing a tough, smart and passionate football team, and that should be the expectation on special teams.
“We’re kind of combining and talking about what Coach Zimmer talks about as our identity, and we’re also taking on that identity on our special teams unit,” Priefer said. “I think our guys are buying into it.”
Fox Sports analyst and Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman visited Winter Park on Wednesday. He was the starting quarterback during Turner’s tenure as the Cowboys offensive coordinator from 1991 to ’93. They won two Super Bowls in that span.
Staff writer Josh Hyber contributed to this notebook.