With dynamic, do-it-all threat Percy Harvin gone to Seattle, it's up to Stewart to mold this crew into a group capable of making plays for quarterback Christian Ponder and lightening the load on Adrian Peterson's shoulders.
"First-round pick, free agent, you treat them both the same, you work them both the same," Stewart said. "There's no favorites. They see that and they feel that they have a chance. As long as they feel like they have an equal chance on equal footing, we have a chance to be successful."
Stewart has also worked with the Steelers, 49ers, Falcons and Buccaneers along the way, and he learned early from Noll and others that the key to connecting with players was to shoot them straight. Whether it was Terrell Owens, Randy Moss or Adam Thielen — an undrafted rookie from Minnesota State, Mankato, trying to win a roster spot this year — Stewart has never had any trouble finding some common ground.
"He knows how to relate to us guys and just talk to us like grown men," Simpson said.
He also knows when to have some fun. Stewart is known for orchestrating elaborately choreographed group handshakes to mark the beginning of practice, sometimes highlighted by his booming voice shouting "Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!" to mark the beginning of the work period.
Stewart prefers to listen to jazz and classics like Smokey Robinson these days, but he'll still throw on some new hip-hop and R&B to find some common ground with the youngsters of today.
"I know exactly what they're talking about and I can feel them," Stewart said. "They've kept me young. It's a great relationship because it is a relationship based on trust. As long as we have that type of relationship we have a chance to be successful."