Daniel Hunter and KJ Osborne were all smiles when they spoke to a small gathering of media outlets overlooking the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium a few weeks ago.
Before preseason training camp began, the pair took in their new surroundings and relaxed a bit from the strain of preparing for a new NFL campaign.
"This is my first time in Europe," said Osborne. "It's so exciting to see all the people and cultures just by looking at the stadium. We are planning to invite some fans to the game and can't wait to come back." 7}
When they return for their Week 4 clash with the New Orleans Saints on October 4, the atmosphere will be much more intense, the stakes will be much higher and the weather will welcome them. It will be much colder than a sunny day.
This is not Hunter's first business trip to London. The last time he was here was in his 2017, when the Vikings defeated the Cleveland Browns 33-16 in Twickenham en route to the NFC Championship game.
"It's a different view than the last time I played here, but it looks like a beautiful stadium," Hunter said. "I've heard it's very exciting. I'm looking forward to playing here again and meeting all the new fans." I thought
They reached within his one Super Bowl game after the Minneapolis Miracle against the New Orleans Saints in one of his most dramatic moments in playoff history. .
Hunter finished his first season as a starter with seven sacks, signed a five-year, $72 million contract extension, and made a Pro Bowl appearance every two seasons thereafter. backed it up.
The Vikings were hoping to make the playoffs again in 2019 and kick on, but the last two seasons have both ended in disappointment, with head coach Mike his Zimmer stepping down. and a new era began.
Hunter missed most of his 2020 season with a neck injury, and a torn pectoral muscle prematurely ended his comeback campaign.
He will be back in his 2021. Fighting with high hopes and more motivation than ever before, with the only game missing from his resume, the Super Bowl, he will get his fit back.
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"It was very motivating," he says. "I've played every game, from Hall of Fame games to pre-Super Bowl games.
"I feel great. A lot of things happen in football, injuries happen and it's part of the game.
"I had the right people around me, the right teammates, the right family, the right coach, all of which have been involved in the process of my return.
He's boosted by the arrival of another feared pass rusher on the other side, Zadarius Smith, consolidating his leadership role in the locker room.
"As I enter my eighth year, I really understand what I am doing: teaching these young people and being with Zadarius Smith. I look forward to staying with you and seeing what you do." We will do our best.
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"It's important to me to have that experience and be able to pass it on to young players.
"I've been in situations where I have to say to them, 'Okay, I have to do this, I have to do that,' and I just build their character and build it as a player."
"That's the only way. The young players that come in need our help.
"Sometimes they think they know everything. But let them calm down a bit and let them know what to do and what not to do and the team will do better.”
Hunter said his next visit to London would be top We realize it could be an important part of going back. Journeys across the pond may be seen as an inconvenience for some teams, but they present great opportunities to bond and win early in their journey as a newly formed group.
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"It will be a positive change for the environment," he said. increase. "We're in the US, but you can come to Europe and meet a different fan base, different people. For young people, it's good for them to experience something like this.
Among the young players Hunter is looking to coach is Osborne, who was a bright spark in a disappointing 2022 season for the Vikings.
The 2020 fifth-round draft pick is Star It cemented his place as the third wide receiver behind veteran Adam Sheeran and young superstar Justin Jefferson.
"It's so great to be with Adam, Justin and everyone in that room." It's fun," says Osborne. "It's been a lot of fun, I've learned a lot, and I feel like I have a really talented group, so I'm excited to get out there and show it.
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"We love being there. Adam, we get to ask him a lot of questions. You can. Justin's had a lot of success, and I'm trying to use that as food to bring big plays to the group.
Life under new head coach Kevin O'Connell Early signs are promising - but the litmus test is back here in London against the Saints on October 4. Hunter has been around long enough to know he's performing when the season starts.
"I think it's pretty good so far," he says. "Good chemistry, we've been practicing in all situations OTA for the future and everyone is doing well.
"It's been a good time so far. We're ready for August. , go out to practice what is required during the season."
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