George Iloka: 'The Vikings just came out of nowhere'

The Bengals released him on Sunday and he signed with the Vikings Wednesday.
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George Iloka

George Iloka was sitting down to eat dinner with his wife when his agent called and stunned him with news that the Cincinnati Bengals were releasing him on Sunday.

Forty-eight hours or so later he was stunned again with the Vikings called to see if he was interested in joining the defending NFC North champions.  

"The Vikings just came out of nowhere pretty much, late last evening," said Iloka on Wednesday, just hours after signing a one-year deal with the Vikings. "Talked to Zim (head coach Mike Zimmer) and the ball just got rolling real fast. I would even say they weren't an option two days ago because there was no communication with them."

In a nutshell, Iloka summed up his decision to come to Minnesota over other suitors because he likes Zimmer coaching style and wanted to play for a contender. 

"I know coach Zim, have a good relationship with him," Iloka said. "I'm comfortable with the system, the playbook. And this is a good team. They were real close last year, they were on the brink of making it to the Super Bowl."

Iloka added that the new facilities helped make his decision a "no brainer." 

Zimmer was the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati when the Bengals picked Iloka in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Iloka believes he already knows 80 percent of Zimmer's defensive playbook, and that the biggest adjustment will be learning new terminology and philosophy that Zimmer has added since leaving the Bengals to coach the Vikings in 2015.  

"My expectation is to just come in, compete and help this team out any way I can," Iloka said, nothing that his goal is to simply "add depth." 

Iloka practiced with the Vikings during Wednesday's morning walkthrough and he was wearing No. 28, the number that used to belong to Adrian Peterson. Iloka, however, says he'll most likely pick a different number. 

"Honestly, the roster is full right now. They just rushed me from plane to practice and that was the only number available so they just threw me in it," he said. "Obviously what AP did for the Minnesota Vikings, no one can match. Future Hall of Famer. He's an elite running back." 

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