Mike Mauti was a guy I really liked coming out of college, and he's been kind of a DN fan favorite around these parts. I loved his stand up character during Penn State's darkest days, and he became the spokesman for and the face of a football team under siege, and was the one guy everyone looked up to to help that school get past...that. I really respected his game at the collegiate level, and was ecstatic when the Vikings were able to draft him in the seventh round last year.
Unfortunately, he was coming off his third ACL tear, and was still rehabbing when he was drafted, and that's why the Vikings were able to get him in the seventh round. Prior to his injury, he was being projected as a second or third round guy, but the third ACL tear caused many teams to take him off of their draft board. Recovering from that and rehabbing during OTA's and minicamp affected his development, and he saw limited playing time, mostly on special teams. He also re-aggravated his knee late in the season, further limiting his playing time. This year, things might be different, as he is 100% healthy and has no lingering effects from his knee injuries.
The Vikings have a lot of natural ability at the linebacker position, but it's really short on experience. Mauti should be in the mix for some considerable playing time, if not a starting role somewhere, and I was able to get a couple minutes with him after today's morning practice.
DN: Mike, it looks like you're healthy this year. How are the knees?
Mike Mauti: They're great. I haven't felt this good in a really long time. I didn't have to do any rehab this off season, and I felt great in mini camps and OTA's. I'm looking forward to flying around and making plays.
DN: What do you see your role as? Are you a pure 'Mike' linebacker, or do you see yourself moving around at all?
MM: I'm doing some Mike stuff in the nickel (defense), but I don't see myself as a pure Mike guy. Linebackers (in this system) are very versatile, and can switch out at all different positions, so the more you can do, the more you can help the defense.
DN: Speaking of that versatility, what's the main difference for between last year and the new system this year?
MM: We run a lot of the same concepts, it's just a different terminology, and Coach Zimmer does things a little bit differently. But overall, his defense is read your keys and make plays on the ball.
DN: The LB corps is a very young group of guys, with the exception of veteran Chad Greenway. You have a lot of natural ability, but a lot of youth, too. How will that play out?
MM: Absolutely, we're looking for guys to get some experience here at training camp, and then in the pre-season, but this is the NFL. You gotta go out and make plays, and we have a lot of work to do in training camp. We've got a great group of guys that work hard, and I'm excited to see what we can do.