New Viking Pleasantly Surprised at OTAs

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Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Arguably the splashiest Minnesota Vikings move of the offseason involved signing EDGE rusher Marcus Davenport, a man who spent four years with the New Orleans Saints and is now on deck to replace ex-Vikings Za’Darius Smith, a newly-welcomed Cleveland Brown.

New Viking Pleasantly Surprised at OTAs

Davenport wasn’t ‘supposed to be’ on the Vikings free-agent radar, mainly for pricing concerns, but general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah proved anything is possible.

And like his newcomer teammates, Davenport acclimated to the Vikings processes last week at organized team activities (OTAs) in Eagan. The club is 3.5 months away from regular season football, but 2023 seedlings are germinating now.

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While at OTAs, one thing, in particular, stood out to Davenport, 26 — the team’s culture. He described his observations to KSTP last week, “The culture — the way we talk — from what I’m learning, I want to say my favorite part about what they said about the Viking culture is you gotta put yourself to who you’re pledging to serve. And I’m trying to serve my team. So from there, I’m pledging my full self. I see everybody else do it, so it’s easy to fall in line.”

The Vikings new-ish leadership duo of Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell have spent 16 months restoring the Vikings culture after some claimed dealings became rigid and cold during the 2021 season under different leaders.

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Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

But not anymore, evidently. Davenport continued, “They had already built the culture, and from there, as Kevin O’Connell was talking about, it’s just affirming the culture.”

That culture helped Minnesota win 13 games in 2022, a win total that fell out of the sky because oddsmakers pegged the Vikings for about eight or nine wins.

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“I wanna be the best for my team. Dominate. Violence. Whatever they need of me,” Davenport concluded.

Domination and violence will be welcomed inside Minnesota’s 2023 defense, a system skippered by freshly-hired defensive coordinator Brian Flores. The ex-Miami Dolphins head coach preaches aggression, which will be a change of pace from the 2022 Vikings, who fancied an infamous bend-don’t-break mantra.

At the same event, Flores mentioned the aggressiveness, “And like I said, we, you know, we’ve tried to install, well, or I shouldn’t say well, we’re installing an aggressive style of defense. But I think, you know, identity is a big part of it as well. And building an identity is a big part of playing defense in this league, and it’s early, but, you know, that’s part of it, too. I understand that.”

Minnesota ranked 31st in yards allowed, 30th in points allowed, and 27th in defensive DVOA, so change is needed. The organization might be onto something with the already-in-place culture described by Davenport, plus Flores’ aggression-laden promise.

Vikings mandatory minicamp begins on June 13th.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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