Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "bradley randle"

bradley randle

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If Bradley Randle  becomes an NFL player with a great and long career it won’t be because it came easy.  If he doesn’t, it won’t be because he didn’t feel the love from the fans in Minnesota.

The little firecracker of a running back should consider giving lessons to other professional athletes on how to gain popularity within a fan base.  By being incredibly accessible to the fans via Twitter, and always willing to talk about Vikings football with the little guys (like us), Randle quickly became a favorite of Vikings fans despite never seeing regular season action.

The Vikings invested a third round selection on running back Jerrick McKinnon after retaining Matt Asiata.  The even sniffed around the likes of LaRod Stephens-Howling according to the rumor mill.  After the Draft, the Vikings wasted little time in cutting Randle loose, which resulted in an outpouring of disappointment from Vikings fans.

As if being released (again) by the Vikings weren’t enough to see Randle look elsewhere for a contract, surely watching them draft a young running back would have him facing facts, right?  Well, apparently not.

Randle continued to make himself a hero to Vikings fans on Tuesday when he revealed he actually turned down a tryout opportunity with the Packers because of his love for the Vikings.

The kid either has reason to believe he will be rejoining the Vikings again soon or he is truly a rebel like his Twitter handle suggests.  Perhaps maybe, just maybe, he’s just a little insane.

Whatever the case may be, though, he is certainly loyal and continuing to earn brownie points with the purple faithful.

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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.”

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The Vikings practice squad is always fluid, with players coming and going, but the details of these eight spots lose a lot of intrigue once the offseason ends and the regular season begins.  Still, there are some interesting things to keep an eye on as these moves are made.

For example, on Wednesday the Vikings signed defensive back Robert Steeples to the squad, and the fact that they assigned him jersey number 26 is perhaps a clear signal that the return of Antoine Winfield is not atop the front office’s priority list.

Yesterday, running back Bradley Randle was released from the practice squad along with defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo.  Meanwhile, running back Joe Banyard was signed to the practice squad.  Last week, it was Banyard being cut and Randle being added.  The Vikings have employed a technique in recent years where they go back and forth with certain players, adding them and dropping them from the practice squad, as a way of essentially keeping two guys in the mix while only tying up one roster spot.  This could be the case here as both Banyard and Randle have traits worth developing at the NFL level.

Additionally, defensive end D’Aundre Reed has officially parted ways with the team via an injury settlement, as did guard Seth Olsen.

According to John Holler of Viking Update, the Vikings have two roster exemptions that allowed them to only cut 13 players today, which gets them down to their 75 player limit by tomorrow’s deadline.  Holler says the exemptions came as a result of Jerome Felton’s suspension and Christian Ballard being placed on the “left team” list.  I’m confused as to why the Vikings don’t have an exemption for DeMarcus Love’s suspension, but that stuff will clear itself up soon.

So, the Vikings made 13 cuts today, and I have to admit I was surprised by a few of them.  Here is a look at the cuts along with some quick analysis.

QB James Vandenberg:  The undrafted rookie was clearly a step or five behind McLeod Bethel-Thompson and so there was little reason to have the undrafted Vandenberg take any snaps in the preseason finale.

RB Bradley Randle and RB Jerodis Williams:  This one stings.  I was really hoping the Vikings would finally have a firecracker scat back at their disposal, and was impressed with Randle’s special teams abilities.  I hope they can sneak him through to the practice squad.  Williams failed to really show up or climb the depth chart in any way.

WR Lamark Brown and WR Erik Highsmith and WR Chris Summers:  I have to think the Vikings are planning on keeping six wide outs this year.  Just a hunch.  Based on these two cuts I think the competition is truly between Joe Webb, Stephen Burton, and Rodney Smith.  Adam Thielen has survived the first round of cuts, however, and could be a dark horse to keep an eye on after an impressive training camp.

G Tyler Holmes and C Camden Wentz:  I’m not 100% sure that any of our offensive line deserves to make this team after three weeks of preseason, and these two were no exceptions.  Failed to shine in a sea of mediocrity (at best), so nothing is surprising here.

DE Lawrence Jackson and DE Marquis Jackson:  Lawrence Jackson is the surprise here, at least to me, as I thought he was a quality low-risk signing this offseason.  To see him cut in the first round is pretty shocking actually, but is again a vote of confidence in D’Aundre Reed who seems to be a coaches favorite that never dresses on game day.

LB Stanford Keglar:  I thought he was already cut a few weeks back.  Shows what I know… and why he’s being cut.

DB Roderick Williams and DB Greg McCoy:  Williams had a little bit of support from some of the fanbase, but there was no way he was making this roster, even if the first five corners on the depth chart got injured.  He and McCoy could both be interesting practice squad possibilities, though.

 

 

The Vikings took on the Texans Friday night, and after having watched it twice (while also celebrating my daughter’s first birthday) I have come to the table with a look at some of the key takeaways from the contest.  The Vikings lost by a score of 27-13, but it is preseason so the final score is as inconsequential as a training camp scrimmage.  Instead, we try to dissect certain aspects of what happened in an effort to predict things to come.

GRADE A

  • The Vikings are believed to have finished their first week of the preseason without any additional injuries, at least no super serious ones, which is probably the most important thing about the game.  Rookie Sharrif Floyd had a good debut, with a couple of flashy plays (batted pass and tackle for a loss), but gave us all a scare when he hit the ground with a knee injury and was unable to return.  While he will have an MRI today, he is expected to be okay.  Often times, the best teams in any given NFL season are the ones that can stay the healthiest, so it was nice to see them come out of this relatively unscathed.
  • By all appearances, the Vikings got exactly what they expected when they signed veteran quarterback Matt Cassel.  Cassel looked exactly like Cassel has looked almost his whole career, which is to say he looked decent but unspectacular, which is an improvement over Joe Webb’s postseason performance that is still fresh in our memory.  Cassel had some very poor play on the line in front of him, but he still managed a decent outing completing 12 of 19 passes for 212 yards, a touchdown, and one interception.
  • The combination of Zach Line (1 catch, 61 yards, 1 TD) and Bradley Randle (3 rushes, 16 yards) has me excited, I must admit.  I have thought all along that Toby Gerhart would finish out his rookie contract as a Viking, and still consider it likely, but if Line and Randle can continue to make things happen in the preseason then the Vikings might feel tempted to explore trade options for Gerhart.  Line’s rumbling touchdown was quite impressive and Randle pass blocked as good as any Vikings running back since the days of Chester Taylor.
  • One penalty.  10 yards.  The entire game.  That’s the type of discipline that wins football games!

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