EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Even after they made him their top pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Vikings never had plans to make Sharrif Floyd a focal point of their defense in his first season. They could afford to bring the rookie along slowly, with veteran Kevin Williams still on the roster and Letroy Guion teaming with Fred Evans to hold down the nose tackle position.
Initially, the Vikings had planned to spell Williams with Floyd at the three-technique tackle, possibly using Floyd in the nickel package and easing the rookie into the league with somewhere between 25 and 30 snaps a game.
But the left knee injury Floyd sustained in the Vikings' first preseason game took things out of the team's hands somewhat. He had surgery this week to relieve pain in the front of his knee, and though a MRI had initially showed no structural damage, Floyd will still need the rest of the preseason to recover.
When he does get on the field again, in the Vikings' regular-season opener on Sept. 8 in Detroit, Floyd will have had the benefit of just two quarters of preseason action. That might be enough, especially in light of defensive coordinator Alan Williams' comments that Floyd was "a little bit ahead" of a typical rookie before he got hurt. But if Floyd isn't at a point where he can handle a decent amount of the work at defensive tackle early this season, the Vikings might have to ask more of the 33-year-old Williams than they initially had planned to do.
"The one thing that Sharrif is doing, he's studying tape, he's paying attention out there on the field, he's listening to the veterans in terms of what they're saying," Alan Williams said. "He's studying at home. He's doing everything that he's supposed to do to get himself back. But the one thing that he can't do is just see the live reps. We're just going to have to wait until he can get back on the field to do that. And then once he gets back, he's just going to have to work himself into seeing those blocks that he'll see in the ballgame. We'll see.
"I expect that he'll be OK, but again, he's still a rookie. We'll just make sure we get up to speed when he does get back on the field."