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Kevin O'Connell on Ivan Pace Jr.: 'Possibly Help us Win Football Games From The Jump'

Pace has been tearing it up over the past few weeks.

CINCINNATI — Former UC football standout Ivan Pace Jr. is impressing all kinds of key figures at Vikings training camp, including his head coach Kevin O'Connell.

Pace tied for the team lead in tackles during preseason Week 1 and could not only make the team but be a key player for Minnesota's defense.

"Really in every facet of the game, how we're playing defense, the communication, pressure, no pressure," O'Connell said this week "Has the athleticism to run sideline to sideline, maybe cancel out some mistakes, if we lose a gap here and there he's shown to be able to get off blocks for a guy that when I watched his tape in college he was almost unblockable and that's translating in a lot of ways.

"It could be a great look for a play, getting a lineman up to him on the second level and he somehow avoids that block and makes the play while doing his job. So he doesn't, you know, undress any other facet of a defensive call. He did great with the green dot the other day in Seattle. So really, gold stars all the way around right now for Ivan, and as I've challenged him to do, you're not just trying to compete to make our team. Let's see where you can go and possibly help us win football games from the jump."

It's been a meteoric rise for Pace, who's consistently worked with the first-team defense over the past few weeks. He gets another chance to impress at home against the Titans this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

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