May 3, 2012; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Gerald Hodges (54) laughs during drills at the Minnesota Vikings rookie minicamp at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Gerald Hodges wants to start for Minnesota Vikings


Minnesota Vikings rookie linebacker Gerald Hodges is here to play.

Typically, as a fourth-round pick, the way one earns playing time right away is by excelling on special teams. Hodges understands that.

“For sure,” Hodges said of playing special teams via 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. “I’ll do whatever I can. I’m just going to continue working hard with two of the greatest linebacker coaches.

Playing on special teams usually signifies that one is a reserve player, as NFL teams try to not put starters on their punt and kick coverage teams and subject them to unnecessary injuries. Hodges doesn’t see himself as a reserve player.

“But my mindset isn’t to come in and be a backup,” Hodges said.

Hodges doesn’t want to be a backup. Yeah, that means he wants to start.

What Hodges has going for him is that the Vikings already told Hodges that they expect him to have an impact right away and team director of college scouting Scott Studwell recently said that Hodges projects as an outside linebacker for the team.

With linebacker Erin Henderson getting at look at middle linebacker, there is a realistic chance that Hodges opens the 2013 season as a starting outside linebacker. Former Vikings’ defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema, founder of VikingUpdate.com, describes Hodges as  “the one to watch” and a “sleeper.”

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