When the Minnesota Vikings released their first depth chart Monday, a former Iowa Hawkeye was moving up.
Christian Ballard is now listed No. 2 at the under tackle position, behind Kevin Williams.
It’s a significant bump for Ballard, a third-year pro with 29 career tackles.
“I’m just trying to come out here and focus on the little things,” Ballard said last week. “We’ve got to improve every day.”
The Vikings currently list 17 defensive linemen, so the battle for a roster spot is intense, let alone playing time.
“The competition is amazing,” Ballard said. “Right now, we’re just having fun, learning from each other.”
Ballard, who grew up in Lawrence, Kan., made 152 career tackles for the Hawkeyes, from 2007-10.
He was a fourth-round pick by Minnesota in 2011 and has played in every game the past two seasons.
“Everything is slowing down a little bit for me,” Ballard said of adapting to the professional level. “I’m learning that everyone has talent.
“In this league, you’ve got to have a lot more technique than in college. The basic fundamentals are so important. You can’t just go out there and survive on your speed and athleticism alone.”
The Vikings finished 10-6 last season and earned a playoff berth, behind superstar running back Adrian Peterson and defensive leader Jared Allen.
“He’s a lead-by-example kind of guy,” Ballard said of Allen. “He’s always contributing. He’s running hard, working hard every day.
“He’s just one of those guys you look at and try to follow.”
The Vikings, who also have former Hawkeyes Chad Greenway, James Vandenberg and Seth Olsen on their roster, open the preseason Friday at 7 p.m. against the Houston Texans.
“I’m just seeing it as one day at a time,” Ballard said. “You’ve got to work on the small things, and let everything else come to you.
“You can’t come out here, play lights out and forget your basic responsibilities.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football