By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings returned to work early with a Saturday match-up set.

The opponent is the San Francisco 49ers, but it’s more than that. This is playoff football, and the younger players are starting to figure out what that means.

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If you want to know what the Vikings are working on and what they will do Saturday, don’t ask defensive end Danielle Hunter.

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“You need to talk to Coach [Mike] Zimmer about the question,” Hunter said.

What is also interesting this week is to talk to the players going through the playoffs for the first time, and feeling that NFL postseason vibe.

“It’s special, the environment that we played in was probably one of the craziest you can probably play in, especially, you know, as a rookie coming in, just having this opportunity to, you know, continue to play football,” tight end Irv Smith Jr. said.

That’s what this week is about — prepare some more because you know it will be crazy in San Francisco, or anywhere in January.

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“[Playoff football] was intense [laughs]! I would just remember, you know, like [Stefon] Diggs, [Everson Griffen], those guys talking about it … just saying how different it was than regular season. Obviously, that was my first playoff game, but it was definitely, it was fun,” defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes said.

Shamar Stephen can help. This is his third-straight trip to the playoffs. That makes him a veteran with guidance.

“Most of it is just who makes less mistakes,” Stephen said. “Playing complimentary football and be able to play off each other, all phases of the game, and just execute.”

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They will have their hands full with a number-one seed, but they have a plan. Again, don’t bother asking Danielle Hunter for specifics.

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“We’re just going to stick with our game plan. I’m not going to tell you our game plan!” Hunter said.

Mike Max