It’s not easy being a rookie in the NFL unless you are on an overachieving team like the Minnesota Vikings. Michael Nattiel, a linebacker who was drafted 17th in the six round overall in the 2003 NFL draft, is on a winning team with players like Randy Moss. Then again he did get used to winning a lot at the University of Florida during his college years.
Chris Yandek: First off how are you?
Michael Nattiel: “I am doing fine.”
CY: How has your rookie year in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings been thus far and what have you learned?
MN: “It has been great. I have been working out a lot and we have a lot of older guys in the linebacker group. They have been doing a great job at teaching the young guys on how to practice and what to do.”
CY: What is your role on the team at this point?
MN: “I am doing my thing on special teams and just making plays. I am giving the offensive team good luck and that is part of my job.”
CY: What are your thoughts on Vikings head coach Mike Tice and his coaching plans thus far?
MN: “I think it’s great. Coach Tice is a head coach that cares about his players. He has been a player in this league so he knows when to push the guys hard and when to pull off. That is a good thing for us players.”
CY: Do you think guys like Randy Moss have really stepped it up this year?
MN: “Of course. I think every guy has stepped it up this year. I think that’s why we are playing great as a team right now.”
CY: Are you really surprised as far as how well the Minnesota Vikings have improved from last season this fast?
MN: “Of course. I didn’t know much about the Minnesota Vikings until I got here. I think from what I heard last year, the team is doing a great job and were studying and improving every week trying to keep a winning streak going.”
CY: Did you ever think you would be part of the last team that Steve Spurrier coached at the University of Florida?
MN: “No, I didn’t. I never thought about it when I got to Florida. I never thought he would leave while I was there. That was not one of the thoughts I had in my mind when I was recruited by the University of Florida.”
CY: What were your thoughts on now Florida head coach Ron Zook’s first season at Florida and do you think he has a lot to live up to?
MN: “Of course. Coach Spurrier set the standards high before he left. I think Coach Zook iis doing a great job, and he will continue to go out and get better every year, get the top recruits, and keep the program where it needs to be.”
CY: Finally, what do you want to achieve most in your career?
MN: “I just want to be the best player I can. Make it to the Pro Bowl one day eventually.”