Letroy Guion, Fred Evans still battling for open spot at nose tackle
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The Jan. 5 loss was the last time either Minnesota Vikings' defensive linemen shouldered pads and hit, so all the running around in shorts this offseason has done very little in helping define who will be named a Week 1 starter.
"It's going to be determined in training camp," Evans said. "Myself and Letroy Guion, we're two very good defensive tackles in our own right."
Guion took the lion's share of reps at nose tackle with the Vikings' nickel defense in mandatory minicamps this week, but Evans has also received reps in the first-team base defense during organized team activities (OTAs)
Sharrif Floyd, the Vikings top pick (23rd overall) in April's draft, exchanged reps at the three-technique with Kevin Williams this week, but coach Leslie Frazier assured media Thursday that nose tackle is Guion and Evan's job to lose.
"I don't foresee such a drop off with Letroy [Guion] or Fred [Evans] to let that happen," Frazier said about Floyd's chances at nose. "But if for some reason that were to happen, we'd have to consider it. But I don't envision [Guion and Evans] not playing up to par."
Guion, 26, fought through a rocky transition from the three-technique to the nose after signing a three-year, $9 million extension in March 2012 and was limited by a turf toe injury he suffered midway through the season.
He finished with two sacks - both at Detroit - despite numerous pass-rushing opportunities and appeared winded in hurry-up scenarios until coming out of his shell in the playoff loss.
"I wouldn't say I was 100 percent by [Jan. 5], but it was definitely better. It's kind of hard getting a big guy like me off a turf toe injury," Guion said. "But I felt like I fought back and did pretty well."
Guion found more room to maneuver as a part-time undertackle in seasons past, but said he intends on improving at nose tackle instead of switching back.
"I can do both, I've been playing both my whole career," Guion said. "But I kind of like nose."
Rotating along the interior of the defensive line, Evans played just three of every 10 snaps for the Vikings. Evans saw an expanded role after Guion's injury and finished with a career-high two sacks in spite of seeing minimal passing situations.
Tensions run high with jobs on the line, but Evans said things are cool between he and Guion.
"We're really close friends," Evans said. "We don't let the competition waiver that and not speak to each other. We're real close and let the best man win."