MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s called “Welcome to the big leagues.” Taking that jump from college to NFL — a league that doesn’t ask for a résumé, just expects you to be ready.
Pat Elflein has had the biggest impact of first years players for the Vikings. He’s been maybe even better than they thought — a student who is committed to learning on the job.
“You gotta blink fast, you gotta prepare very hard every week. You gotta study your opponent and just be decisive,” Elflein said.
Ben Gedeon has made his name as a special teams player and an outside linebacker, his learning curve helped by the people around him on defense.
“Yeah, I mean it makes our job easier across the board. Everything’s tied together too, so DBs working with us, us working with d-line and we’ve been doing it well,” Gedeon said.
Jeff Overbaugh is new to the team, the long snapper called on from San Diego State for the final game of the season when Kevin McDermott got hurt. A rush to Minnesota, but easier than his first NFL tryout.
“When I was with the Bears in the preseason, I got there, I flew overnight Sunday night, Monday morning, didn’t get any sleep, worked out, signed and we played on Thursday night,” Overbaugh said. “So comparing this to that, this was all the time in the world.”
In a crash course, he has passed the test so far.
“I think just having trust in him. He’s shown he can do it so I don’t have any doubts that it’s not going to be there,” kicker Kai Forbath said.
In the midst of anxiety comes appreciation that you have joined a team that has been special, and that you are a part of something special: the postseason.
“Yeah, it’s been fun. I think us young guys are lucky because we got a lot veterans, guys that played a lot of football and know how to prepare for games like this, so it’s been fun,” Gedeon said.
Because winning a division and going 13-3 is rare air. So too is your first playoff game in the best football league in the world.
“It’s awesome,” Elflein said. “We’ve worked hard day in, day out, taking it one week at a time and not looking too far ahead. So to finally be at this point and have this challenge in front of us is what we want and we’re excited about it.”
With a head coach who wants them to understand where they are ain’t easy.
“Problem is, a lot of young guys come in and they expect it’s going to happen every single year and really you never know,” Mike Zimmer said. “Last time I won the Super Bowl was 1995, so it’s been a while.”