Following the 42-14 beatdown at the hands of the Bengals there is little else for Vikings fans to look forward to than next season.  We will soon be in all-out optimism mode as staff comes and goes, free agency heats up, and the NFL Draft infuses the roster with new blood.  This roster certainly doesn’t lack youthful talent, however, and these young playmakers give us all reason to hope for a quick turnaround and an immediate return to the playoffs.

One of those players that has me particularly excited is running back Bradley Randle who signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent, out of Nevada – Las Vegas, and has returned to the team’s practice squad after spending most of the NFL season training in California and spending time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  On December 11th the Vikings finally re-signed Randle to their practice squad and he was immediately asked to emulate Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy in practice to help the defense prepare.  The results were quite positive.

Now, most of you that have been reading my rants for some time now know that I am always quick to stump for a “scat back” in purple, as I feel that particular dimension in our offense has been missing for, well… a long, long time.  I’ve stumped for guys like Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush when they have been available, and I immediately got my hopes up following the 2013 Draft when news broke that the Vikings were bringing Randle in.

On Sunday, Randle was kind enough to spend some time answering some questions for VT, which was inspired by my curiosity as to why this guy seemed so popular with Vikings fans despite never having played in a game that mattered.

“Where else in the NFL is there a player that the fans love who has not played a single NFL regular game snap?” Randle told me.  “That is how great these fans are.”

“They are making history based off of the love in their hearts for a person like me,” he continued.  “An underdog.”

Randle is indeed an underdog.  With Adrian Peterson sitting atop the Vikings depth chart in a shatter-proof throne, Randle has to prove his worth as a backup to Peterson and on special teams, but don’t think Peterson’s stardom impacts Randle’s confidence.

“I am one of the best running backs in the NFL,” he was quick to tell me.  “I have Adrian Peterson as my mentor.  That is like having Walter Payton or Herschel Walker teaching you. He calls me ‘Mini Me.’  People began to call me ‘Lil AP’ and now big AP calls me that too.  This is because God has made me great.”

“Who is better than me besides my mentor Adrian Peterson himself?  The answer is ‘nobody,'” Randle said just before insisting he’ll be a mainstay on the Vikings roster next year.  “Just because I am great does not mean I will make the active roster.  It means I will take a spot on the active roster.”

The most noticeable thing about Randle and his Twitter account is how much he just genuinely seems to love the team that continues to give him chances.  I don’t think I have ever seen a player so outwardly loving of his team and their fanbase, and the uncanny thing about that was that it continued through the months following his release.  Even when he wasn’t a part of the team he acted like he was.

“To become a loved player on a team that has the best fans in the world has been emotional and inspiring,” Randle stated.  “It would be lovely to retire in Minnesota because now I play for fans as well.  I used to only play for God and my team.  Now the fans are a part of my heart.”

Randle’s return to Minnesota’s practice squad was well received by Vikings fans and Randle seems to appreciate the support he received from the fans.  He thinks that is something the front office will pay attention to down the stretch.

“The fans have power,” he claims.  “When the Vikings called me back to be on the team, the Vikings staff certainly heard the excitement of the fans.  The fans became excited again when there was not much to be excited about after missing out on making the playoffs this year.”

I asked Randle about the special teams hit that catapulted him into national highlight reels while at UNLV and he said he has always been a hard hitter and that he comes from a family full of hard hitters.  His father, Lenny Randle, was the MVP for the New York Mets in 1978.  While he also excels in baseball, Randle tells me that the NFL is where his heart is.

“Football is my sport of choice because of the purple warrior blood in my veins.”

I asked Randle about some of his Rebel brothers that he left behind.  With UNLV appearing in a bowl game, and Rick Spielman clearly trying to pair up college teammates on his roster, is there a chance we could see another Rebel with the Vikings next year and who does Randle think we should be keeping an eye on?

He mentioned nose tackle Nate Holloway, a large nose tackle that went undrafted in the 2013 supplemental draft, as well as defensive lineman James Boyd.  A fellow running back in Elijhaa Penny was also singled out by Randle.  Additionally, he described Kenny Brown as “a hard hitting defensive back.”  Time will tell if any other Rebels are in Spielman’s scope.

At the end of our conversation I asked Randle who he modeled his game after.  With him being listed at 5’ 7″ and 190 pounds I expected to hear him say Darren Sproles or someone of that sort.  Instead, Randle told me he runs like some of the toughest the game has ever seen, and seems to shrug off the idea that he can’t be a power runner.

Gale Sayers and Adrian Peterson. Both are gasher backs,” he said.  “LeSean McCoy is a slasher. We are gashers.”

81 COMMENTS

  1. Bradley might be small but he sure packs a punch.
    Teams are kicking short to avoid Patterson. Bradley is a solid blocker who also has kick-off return experience at UNLV… I would love to see him win a roster spot returning some of those short kick-offs.
    Good luck Bradley, nice to have you back!

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  2. i see humility is his strong suit. sounds like he’s got the passion and gives good quotes, but AP, not AD? hmmm

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  3. Don’t let the confidence fool you, this is an ultimate team first player. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team out and that’s the type of guy I want to stick around. Good luck to you next year Bradley Randle.

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  4. Thanks, Coach, Merry Christmas to you too….and to the who;e gang here at VT…..

    Ole, Mele Kalikimaka to you, my friend…..blessings to you this coming year!

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  5. i see there’s a very cold weather tweet up there, and it reminds me of all the times i asked myself, while i lived in mn, why i was there……we’re having sunny and 70’s all week here

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  6. This dude sounds great. Give Freds guy Bradley the rock, let’s see what he can do!

    Would love to see him out there!

    Nice article!

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    • “Freds guy Bradley”. You took him on pretty quick there, Freds. What’s the criteria?

      How are the holidays going there, Freds? Are all members of the crew on deck and at full strength at one time or another?

      Go Gophers! We don’t lose to Orange men, right?

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  7. I wonder if Bortle’s stock is rising due to the grade his girlfriend would get, holy cripes!

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  8. With all the comments from Packer fans on recent Viking’s stories; suck it Packer fans. Maybe they should be concerned about their own hapless team. McCarthy should be fired. If he secured a viable back-up QB, they’d be resting their starters this week.

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  9. wasn’t this last game the game big johnny was invited to go to?

    we need a report! what did ya get?

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  10. Looks like 6 head coaches fired at the time I’m writing this, that should mean there will be a lot of experienced coordinator/position coaches for whoever gets the head job to bring in. That would make it easier to go with a relatively green guy like Jay Gruden.

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    • First hear I meant, I’ve had that ready since he was still the interim coach, great guy with zero ability to coach.

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      • “…zero ability to coach.” Wow, you got it bad for Leslie, Skol. There is a pretty big body of people in the NFL that would laugh at that one.

        But it’s OK. I know you are glad to see him gone, and I understand why. No problem here, just amused at the degree of disdain.

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        • I know I’m hard on him and its honestly Zygis fault. He should never have given Frazier the job he was in over his head. I agreed with starting ponder as long as he did too.

          Staying with older vets, lack of adjustments, and being out coached/outsmarted is why he had to go. At times I questioned if he should stay but in the end I agree with the decision.

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  11. I want to be the first (and perhaps only) to say that the firing of Frazier was a bad idea. Popular idea yes, but not a good idea. The lack of success in the NFL can be very complicated, but until a coach has a QB, he can only have marginal success. I know the buck stops in his office, and so he takes the fall. But I really believe we dismissed a very good head coach today, and I hope Leslie has the chance to prove that again some day. Believe me, there is not a coach out there that will go to the Super Bowl with this collection of QB’s, and if we are supposed to give someone else a chance with different people in that role, then why not Leslie?

    I am wondering if there was a scenario where Frazier was told he would stay if he looked for a change in one or both coordinators? My guess would be he said “all of us or none of us”. If that was the case, then Leslie took the fall as he probably should have. The defensive philosophy of this team was flawed, and a change there was needed.

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    • Coach Frazier didn’t play his young players. He was stubborn about it. Patterson should have been playing right away. He didn’t even give the new LB’s a chance. Frazier is to loyal to his veterans. A.D, should have been shut down many games ago. I think these things really hurt him this year.

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    • I respect Frazier and think he’s probably the nicest guy to ever coach an nfl team. That said there’s a Green Day song called “Nice Guys Finish Last”. Frazier was a talentless DC and worse HC. His talent scouting would have led him to bench Tom Brady, his choice of coordinators was the worst in the NFL, his halftime adjustments were the worst I’ve ever seen.
      I wish we coulda kept him as a motivator and player councillor because he was amazing in those 2 areas, that’s it.

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  12. Agreed Coach! That’s how I’ve felt, but now that the team caved in to the public perception, I’ve started hoping for a good hire. PLEASE NO DENVER OC. That guy doesn’t have to coach, it’s all Manning. What was his performance before Manning? Del Rio, failed as HC already. My list is John Gruden, Jay Gruden, College Offensive juggernaut, Singletery as DC.

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    • Thanks CS. Not sure how I feel about Singletary, though. His ability to communicate may be questionable. I’m not a rant & rave type, so he would not be my first choice for any position. It will be quite interesting, though, I agree. I’m gonna say that someone better than Frazier is a shorter list than some might suggest. But I know that is my very under-popular opinion.

      Here’s the ultimate irony… Frazier is fired but Rex Ryan stays. Rex is probably forgiven on the basis of his “lack of a QB”. He did field a defense, I will give him that, but when it comes to offense, Leslie’s team finished 13th in YPG and tied with the Andrew Luck Colts for 14th in scoring, all despite lacking a true #1 QB. Ultimately, the man’s demise was his two-minute defense.

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    • Why not Lovie? Why not Del Rio? Del Rio used to be a Viking. He had a bad situation in Jacksonville.

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  13. Singletery manufactured, or laid ground work for that SF defense. HC, no. But we should have him DC in a heartbeat.

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  14. Frazier’s loyalty to terrible coordinators are what got him fired, hopefully he will learn from this. If you want to be the guy that protects your staff, don’t act surprised when you are fired for their performance, as simple as that.

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  15. Has Muskrat and Allen been fired also? I hope so!!!! I can not find anything about their status. Frazier deserved to go. He mismanaged the QB situation, and obviously let his coordinators run the show, Nice guy but a poor leader and coach,

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    • I hope so too. I don’t want a single coach back, even the special teams guy, allowed to many big returns at the worst times.

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  16. If someone wants to convince me that Frazier was fired because of his loyalty to his DC, I will agree with you. But his QB management? How does this team finish 13th in YPG and 14th in scoring with that trio of QB’s? Hate on Musgrave and Frazier if you must, but the World Champion Baltimore Ravens with Joe Flaaco and Ray Rice and Torrey Smith and… finished 29th and 25th in those categories. Maybe we should consider what he did right!

    By the way, I’m here to say that Leslie Frazier is much more than a nice guy, and a lot of “nice guys” have won in the NFL. The man knows football, and got more out of a QB-less team than anyone I’ve seen. Did I support his playing of Ponder? Sure, he had to see what the kid had and could learn. Did you see his options? Everyone, including a new coach, knows that position is a big issue. But it was his defense that destroyed this season. Which leads me back to…. if he lost his job due to his loyalty to Williams, I can agree with you.

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  17. it’s really sad that a lot of the potential candidates have a ‘wants too much power, so unlikely’ asterisk after their name. Teams that don’t let coaches coach and amase their own roster, go no where. just look at dallas and washington for examples…

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  18. I agree with the firing but must say I feel bad today about seeing him go. I understand a lot of what coach is saying, but I have the feeling that Frazier would have spent another three seasons trying to proove that his Tampa-2 was still a legitimate defense in the NFL if given the opportunity. Ultimately the same loyalty that his players are praising him for today is a big part of the reason why he is no longer the head coach of this team. I do think some of our younger players should have been put into more prominent roles earlier this season, and in game adjustments are a critical part of the NFL today and Frazier seems no better today at this than he was 3 years ago. Hopefully the next HC can find a guy similar to Frazier that the players feel good about talking too about whatever issue’s they are having in their lives, but it would probably be a good idea for the HC to not be that guy. Keeping George Stewart, the WR coach, would be another good idea to aid Patterson’s continued development.

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  19. les is a good guy, i like him, i respect him, and i wish him well. reading how his players feel about him makes me feel sad, but we knew it was going to happen

    i also like titles. 3 and 5 win seasons don’t get titles. just gotta shake off how we feel sad about les getting the ax and think of winning our first title. this could be the beginning of great things to come

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  20. One thing to keep in mind with Jack Del Rio… Bill Musgrave was his offensive coordinator in 2003-2004.
    Musgrave was fired from that position.

    Del Rio had some success with Carl Smith as offensive coordinator from 2005 to 2007. Del Rio was 31-17 with Carl Smith as OC in those 3 years.

    Carl Smith is having success as QB coach in Seattle.

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  21. Kirk Koetter (Atlanta’s current OC) served as OC under Del Rio in Jacksonville after Carl Smith. Koetter didn’t have much success with Jacksonville, nor is he doing well in Atlanta this year.

    If the Vikings can team Del Rio and Smith together again they might have something.

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  22. Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be the steal of the draft. Could be like Brady. He will be a very good to great NFL QB.

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  23. Frazier had to go. Nice guy and all but he lost 70% of his games as the Head Coach.
    Over a 3 year period, that’s unacceptable. Glad to see him gone.
    The trouble now is there are what? 6 head coaching positions open? Its going to be tough to get an established head coach with NFL experience. The smart money says we get someone from the college ranks.
    And a BIG fat no to Singletary as our DC. The guy is a buffoon.

    Just think if we would have promoted Dungy or Tomlin when we had the chance.

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    • Not to nit-pick Fran, but Leslie actually lost exactly 60% of his games, with an overall record of 21-33-1, including the playoff game last year. Carry on.

      So as to be on record here, I am truly happy for all the Viking fans who wanted to see this happen today. I hope you are all right that a change will bring about success for the Vikings – I’m all for that!

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      • I struggle with math, I’ll admit.
        But I have to ask, how much difference is there between 60 and
        70% when you’re talking about a losing record?
        Ok, he ONLY lost 60% of his games over the last THREE years.
        I think it’s been pretty much established that Leslie had many, many short comings for a head coach.
        I just hope the Wilfs will take some time and look around some before they pull the trigger on the next head coach for the Minnesota Vikings.
        God knows they didn’t on the last two choices! (Childress, Frazier)

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        • Agreed Fran. The difference between 60 and 70 is of little significance here (as opposed to age, where I can tell you… never mind). Just pullin’ your chain a little.

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          • Ha! I’m right on the cusp of seeing the difference between 60 and 70, so I’ll let you know how it goes over the next 10 years.
            Sure hope the Vikings win a Championship in the meantime. . .

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  24. Del Rio= big mistake. I wasn’t big on Teddy, but after seeing him at the end of the year and in their bowl game, he looks legit with the throws he made.

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    • These running Qb’s are not going to last in the NFL. A few hits in the knees and they are hurt. Pocket passing will come back. A pocket passer, that can make timely runs is a much better QB to have.

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  25. I would bet that the Wilfs told Spielman that he will be married to his choice for HC, and if it doesn’t work out, he’ll be out next time around…..

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  26. From 2003 to 2007 Del Rio fired 13 assistant coaches.

    The more I read about Del Rio the more I think he would be a mistake. Yes he had Jacksonville very competitive in a very tough division… But I think he would have a tough time finding a quality offensive staff.

    Unlike Frazier… Del Rio hangs his assistants out to dry!

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  27. Are the Vikings the next program for Jerry Kill to rescue? He can bring Nelson and Leidner with him.

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      • Well, first of all I would never ruin a good glass of egg nog that way, Cal. (nor a good glass of rum, for that matter.) But no, I was not serious about Jerry. He’s still got plenty of work to do at the U.

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  28. Are you kidding me? Vikings request to talk to Darrell Bevell? We just fired that guy, Zygi is on crack.

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  29. Bevell knows QBs at least. Favre’s got reputable coaching record back home-lol. And, Teddy doesn’t seem like a running QB to be. No more than Luck was.

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  30. I don’t blame the QB mess on Frazier…but his downfall was the D. He had 3 years to get it in better shape…Vikes D finished 31st. Uhh, yeah.
    Agree with Coach in that Les could’ve had some success here, but it just didn’t happen. A good man, he will land on his feet.
    I hope Bevell is not our next HC…we’ve been down that road. He has had a good run with Seattle and with Favre in 09’…but I don’t see him being a good HC.

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  31. It sounded like Spielman had a list of a dozen or more candidates, so lets not get too carried away with every request they make to talk to someone. Jay Gruden could very well be their top candidate, but he isn’t available to be interviewed yet because the Bengals are playing this week. Del Rio, Gase, and Bevell all have bye weeks so they can talk to them with permission from the clubs. We haven’t heard of any minority candidates yet either, they would be wise to set something up with Lovie early in the process, both because it sounds like he’s already got coaches lined up to join him, and even if he ultimately doesn’t get the job, it would satisfy the Rooney rule early in the process. It can be hard to get a minority coach to interview once it becomes apparent that someone else has got the job. I could see Lovie being next years Andy Reid, the guy sounds pretty motivated and I bet he would like an opportunity to coach against the team that fired him twice a year. He’s a Tampa 2 guy though, so maybe he isn’t on Spielman’s list. My two biggest wishes in the new staff is a modern passing game and a defensive mind that focuses on confusing the offense and creating turnovers.

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    • I hope (if they aren’t looking at any minority coaches) they interview a random minority from the street to fulfill the Rooney rule. Stupidest thing ever and that rule needs to go. They had good intentions but shouldn’t force it.

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    • I trust Speilman right now. Since he became GM there hasn’t been a move I totally disagree with. I also love the way he drafts, and hope he brings in a solid coach and Johnny manziel!

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  32. Spielman was on same staff with Mike Shula in Miami for a couple years before Shula landed the head coaching job at Alabama.

    Shula has done a good job with Cam Newton in Carolina… And had a winning record at Alabama. Nick Sabon makes it look too easy… But Alabama plays a tough schedule.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Shula’s name start to pop up in all the coaching rumors and chatter.

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