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Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

270204211

Rookie Shamar Stephen gaining first team reps at defensive tackle

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated August 14th at 1:35pm 271245901

Vikings rookie defensive tackle Shamar Stephen displayed his versatility during Thursday’s practice receiving first team reps at nose tackle in Linval Joseph’s absence. He was mainly used as three-technique at Connecticut, but the seventh round pick has received work at both positions since he was drafted.

And he’s quickly getting noticed, particularly after Stephen’s performance against the Raiders on Friday.

“He did some good things,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “We played him at the three technique, we played him at the nose and for a guy who really hadn’t got a lot of reps at the three (technique) we thought he did a good job of what we were asking call-wise, technically, fundamentally, he held up pretty good in there.”

Stephen received 33 snaps with 21 against the run, per Pro Football Focus. He tied for a team-high five tackles and prompted praise from Edwards and head coach Mike Zimmer this week.

“It definitely feels good, but it also shows that I still need to work and get after it,” Stephen said.

Stephen said he felt like he’s improved in his pass rushing ability but still needs to improve in that area. It’s been an emphasis with the defensive linemen this week heading into Saturday’s game against the Cardinals.

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