Vikings coaches pushing for Fred Evans to have shot at starting nose
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Fred Evans lined up with the Minnesota Vikings' starting defense for the first snap of both team periods in last week's open organized team activity practice, and that was no accident.
"The coaches keep telling me that, hey, we need to give Fred a shot to compete for the No. 1 job," coach Leslie Frazier said in an interview with 1500 ESPN on Sunday.
Evans, 29, played fewer snaps (357, 29.8%) last season than Letroy Guion (525, 43.8%), who had signed a three-year, $9 million contract to be the starting nose tackle.
But Evans graded out better and had several pivotal plays, including a sack of Houston quarterback Matt Schaub and a third-and-goal stop in the playoff game at Green Bay.
"Based on (what Evans) did coming down the stretch -- he played some lights-out football for us," Frazier said. "He really stepped up. And we've been harping on that with him, his consistency, and he showed that late in the season. So, we'll see. We'll just see if he can continue to elevate his play, and if he does, he'll be in line for more snaps with the first unit."
A longtime favorite of Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, Evans (6-foot-4, 305 pounds) finalized a two-year, $3 million contract on the same day Guion (6-4, 303), a converted three-technique who turns 26 this month, officially signed his contract in March 2012.
Evans has been a rotational player in seven NFL seasons (one with Miami, six with the Vikings) but always has possessed impressive quickness and athleticism for his size. Now Evans is one of the Vikings' top five veteran defensive linemen along with ends Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen and undertackle Kevin Williams -- all entering the last year of their contracts.
"I don't know if that's good or bad, but that's the way it looks like it's going to turn out," Frazier said, chuckling. "I was teasing our d-line coach (Brendan Daly) -- I go, 'Man, your room is going to be kind of ornery because those guys are going to be looking at their stats' and so on. So, we're going to have our work cut out for us, trying to make sure they're thinking about the team and not the next contract."