Between now and the season opener, the Minnesota media will follow a very specific formula to make sure their sports pages are still interesting despite the relatively boring period of time that is the middle of the offseason.
I am, of course, referring to the strategy creating a scattershot of “fluff” pieces that will profile a player, perhaps give us a snapshot of their personal history, and leave us all with a hopeful message: This guy could be the answer at his respective position.
I’m not saying these articles don’t serve a worthwhile purpose, and aren’t interesting to those of us that love our Vikings football, but I just want to help you temper your expectations by reminding you that these articles come and go every year. Sometimes the player turns out to be a nobody (i.e. Logan Payne) and sometimes the player actually does become a contributor (i.e. Marcus Sherels) despite the stacked odds.
I’m not trying to be the poster child of pessimism. Rather, I am just trying to keep your expectations in check, as it is always a dangerous time when the hopes of Vikings fans begin to rise.
Okay, so with all of that said, I want to highlight some stories about the pre-camp Vikings and how they are doing. After the jump.
JEROME SIMPSON, WR
Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN writes that the Vikings are “downright giddy” about getting a speedster like Jerome Simpson in such a bargain deal, despite his three-game suspension to start off the season. Bill Musgrave thinks Simpson will prove to be a legitimate field-stretching threat that could play the part far better than Bernard Berrian was ever able to.
Meanwhile, Kevin Siefert of ESPN’s NFC North Blog caught up with Simpson to talk to him about the drug charges that landed him 15 days in jail and his suspension. Simpson describes jail as “terrible,” talks about his character, and says that “the man upstairs wanted me to change.”
SOLOMON ELIMIMIAN, LB
The Vikings snatched the CFL linebacker that was voted “hardest hitter” by his fellow players in the league after last season ended. Solomon Elimimian will have to overcome the fact that he is undersized (5’ 11” – 230 pounds) to be successful at the NFL level. His once-again teammate Emmanuel Arceneaux recalled a story that illustrates just how hard Elimimian hits.
“I played with Solly up there (in the CFL) in 2010,” said Arceneaux according to this Viking Update article. “Toronto had a running back, Cory Boyd, from South Carolina. Solly hit him one time and Cory was asleep by the time he hit the ground.”
KYLE RUDOLPH, TE
The tight end is entering his second years with high expectations not only from the fans, but from himself. He feels that his rookie season allowed him to learn what will be demanded of him at the NFL level and that experience will set him up for success moving forward, according to Viking Update.
“There’s just a lot more comfort this time around,” Rudolph said. “I feel a lot more comfortable. I’ve gone through it all once. Last year with the lockout, our first crack at it was in training camp and everything we did was new. It’s a lot like going into your sophomore year of college. Everything is familiar. The offense is second nature. I don’t have to learn the offense. Now I can focus on the little nuances and become a better player.”
Rudolph, John Carlson, and rookie Rhett Ellison have the potential to emerge as one of the NFL’s most effective tight end groups, especially in Bill Musgrave’s offense. Rudolph will undoubtedly be the premier player of the group, and should prove to be a very solid target for Christian Ponder.
CHRISTIAN PONDER, QB
Christian Ponder will almost certainly have to show growth and improvement on the football field this season if he wants to survive the highly competitive business of being an NFL quarterback.
Jeremy Fowler of the Pioneer Press recently caught up with Tom Kanavy, the Vikings strength and conditioning coordinator, and Kavany went out of his way to praise Ponder for his offseason work and leadership in strength building drills.
Ponder is supposedly bigger than he was at the end of last season, an effort to prevent the injuries that made his rookie season so tough.
“He knows the rest of the guys are looking to him,” Kanavy said. “Even before coaches working with him, he was organizing workouts and being a vocal presence.”
“I think the players respect the weight-room leaders more than the guys that talk in the locker room or at the end of practice,” Kanavy continued. “Of course, normally it ends up being the same guy. But what players look for in the weight room, no matter what a guy is dealing with, injury, personal issue, they are always here, always on time, always working hard. We have a lot of guys like that right now.”
That is all for today, but we’ll be sure to find out more interesting notes about dozens of the players on this roster between now and when they start playing real football.