Friday, August 1, 2014

Antone Exum: 'The more risks you take out in the secondary, the more reward'

Daniel House chatted with Vikings safety Antone Exum and learned more about his transition to safety in Mike Zimmer's defense. 

Updated: August 2nd, 2014 9:56am

By: Daniel House

The Vikings selected safety Antone Exum in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft back in May. Exum, a cornerback/safety from Virginia Tech was known for his physicality and playmaking abilities in college. Exum tore his ACL in January of 2013, but returned to play in two games later in October of 2013. His injury concerns led to his platoon down the NFL draft board and Exum was excited to get the opportunity to play for the Vikings.

"It's a great experience for me and a great opportunity. I'm just trying to seize it and go out here and do the best that I can," Exum said.

Exum will be working closely in the secondary with Jerry Gray, who played for nine seasons in the NFL. Antone understands how well he is being coached and he truly believes Gray is one of the best defensive backs coaches in the NFL.

"Yeah, [Jerry Gray] does have a lot of experience and I think that makes him a very good coach. I don't really have any experience with any other NFL DB coaches, but he has to be the best or one of the best DB coaches out there. I've learned a lot from him and coach John Gannon. Those guys are great. I look forward to playing under them for the next few years," Exum added.

Exum has been looking forward to the transition to playing more safety with the Vikings. He seen some experience with this during his college career at Virginia Tech and he believes he has adapted to the physicality on the backend. Exum believes the real challenge for him will be to learn all the defensive sets and calls as one of the leaders in the backend.

"It's been going good, just an adjustment with learning the new playbook and all of that. Just being able to make the adjustments and the calls, but as far as the physical side, I'm pretty used to that and have had that experience in college," Exum explained.

Exum knew that the transition to the NFL wasn't going to be easy, but the biggest adjustment has been learning a new defensive philosophy. The learning curve is steep and Exum understands that being the quarterback of the defense come with major responsibilities.

"Probably just learning the new system, not that it's been terribly difficult or anything, but whenever you are the quarterback of a defense and you're learning a new system, there will always be a little bit of a learning curve," Exum said.

Exum loves Mike Zimmer's philosophy and believes that the aggressive edge in the secondary will lead to high rewards for the defense.

"Just how aggressive [Mike Zimmer] is with his DB's. I really like that style and I think the more risks you take out in the secondary, the more reward," Exum concluded.

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