Monday, October 16, 2017

Making an impact: Parkston native Reiff embracing role with Vikings

By Eric Mayer
October 15, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- Letting his game do the talking, Riley Reiff is thriving as a Minnesota Viking.

Six games into the 2017 regular season and roughly eight months after signing a five-year, $58.75 million contract, Reiff continues to showcase his talents that made him a household name in South Dakota.

On Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Parkston native helped pave the way for a Vikings offense that outgained the Green Bay Packers 351-227 in a 23-10 NFC North victory.

“I’m just trying to work hard and help the team win in anyway possible,” Reiff told The Daily Republic after the game. “Any time you play a division team, it’s going to be a tough game and you’re going to be in for a fight. It was today, hats off to the Packers, but it’s good to get the win.”

Coming over from another Black and Blue Division city — Detroit, where he spent the first five years of his career — Reiff has gotten comfortable in Vikings’ purple and playing closer to home.

“It’s been good. I’m enjoying it,” said Reiff, who has started all six games for Minnesota this season. “I’ve had to give more tickets up, but it’s been fun. I’m close to home. I know a lot of people up in the area.”

Reiff’s impact has been quick and steady. He’s settled in as one of the Vikings’ five team captains and stabilized the left tackle position, one that was a revolving door and highly scrutinized during an 8-8 campaign for Minnesota a year ago.

Standing 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, Reiff has been a key piece on Minnesota’s offensive line that has helped the Vikings rank in the top-10 for fewest sacks allowed, most yards per play and turnover percentage.

“He’s a tough, nasty guy,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said about Reiff. “You know what you are going to get out of Riley on every down. He’s gonna fight his tail off and he shows that every play.”

It showed against the Packers Sunday, a game in which Reiff and the offensive line kept Clay Matthews and company away from quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum, filling in for starter Sam Bradford, completed 24 of 38 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown, along with one interception.

In his postgame press conference, the former University of Houston standout had high praise for Reiff and the offensive line.

“They are doing a great job of, first of all, identifying fronts. Green Bay really came after us today and they mixed up their pressure and mixed up their fronts,” said Keenum, who wasn’t sacked during the game. “They’re playing their tails off. It’s been fun to be back there behind those guys.”

Representing South Dakota

It wasn’t just the passing game that benefitted from Reiff and the offensive line. The Vikings found success in the rushing attack against the Packers totalling 112 yards on the ground.

Fullback C.J. Ham, who was standout at Augustana University alongside Mitchell natives Jason and Justin Greenway, said Reiff is showing why the Vikings signed him as a free agent.

“(Reiff) brings a lot of experience, a lot of strength and (he) pretty much relies on what he knows. He’s a good player,” Ham said. “He’s done a phenomenal job of protecting the quarterback and us (running backs and fullbacks) as well.”

Ham noted Reiff, who is second on the team in games played for offensive lineman, doesn’t try to do too much and doesn’t make many mistakes. On Sunday, which was Reiff’s 75th start of his career, the 2012 first-round draft pick was flagged only once for a false start penalty just before the last play of the first half.

“It all starts up front,” Ham said. “They’ve been playing great, playing assignment sound and getting their job done. It really helps our team.”

At 28, Reiff joined the Vikings shortly after Chad Greenway, a Mount Vernon native, announced his retirement from the purple and gold. Greenway, who played 11 years with the Vikings, was one of the first people to congratulate Reiff when he signed with Minnesota.

Rudolph, who played alongside Greenway for six seasons, poked some fun at his former teammate when asked about comparing Greenway and Reiff.

“Riley’s way better than Chad,” Rudolph said with a smirk. “It’s not even close. … Naw, they’re both Iowa guys, as well, and they are guys that didn’t have a ton of scholarship offers coming out of high school. … (Reiff) worked hard. He earned it and nothing was given to him.”

Ham, who is very familiar with South Dakota after his time in Sioux Falls, said Reiff exemplifies the state.

“There’s not a lot of NFL players that come out of that South Dakota, Iowa area,” Ham said. “He’s definitely a big name there and I know a lot of people in South Dakota that look up to him.”

Popular Posts