Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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jerome simpson

This week here at VT we are bringing back our weekly “Coin Toss” column where Adam and I go head to head on a variety of different topics. This week, we’ll be debating the fate of Vikings new fullback Jerome Felton.

We’ve been talking about it a lot here at Vikings Territory, but in case you missed any of that coverage, let me bring you up to speed: Jerome Felton was arrested a few days ago for driving while intoxicated… at a McDonald’s drive-through. Since then, Felton has publicly apologized for his actions and the trouble he got himself into. The team has really taken no stance on Felton’s future with the team giving the typical “we’re waiting to gather more information” line. The NFL on the other hand is currently reviewing the case to determine if Felton should be suspended as this, apparently, isn’t his first run-in with authorities for getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Okay, so, here is the deal.

  1. The Vikings could use an upgrade at wide receiver.
  2. Chad Ochocinco was been released by the Patriots.

So, naturally, Twitter and Facebook are instantly flooded with Vikings fans stumping for Ocho to join the team.

Sound ridiculous?

Well, it isn’t so ridiculous if a guy like Mike Florio of PFT, who actually gets paid lots of money to think about these things, makes a comment like this:

“Look at the depth chart,” writes Florio.  “He’d instantly be the second-best receiver on the roster, behind Percy Harvin.”

So, if Florio wrote this, it must have some merit to it, right?

Wrong.

Now, I like Florio more than many of you do, but I just can’t see how anyone who is paying attention to anything about this year’s Minnesota Vikings can think that there is a place for the 34 year old receiver on this roster.

Last year, playing in one of the league’s best offenses with one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks ever, Ochocinco rarely made any sort of impact.  He played in 15 games, starting three, but managed only 15 catches.  He turned those grabs into 276 yards and a touchdown.

The Vikings receivers had a combination of Donovan McNabb, rookie Christian Ponder, and Joe Webb throwing to them.  Still, many of them managed to out-perform Ocho in 2011.

In 11 games, Michael Jenkins managed 38 receptions for 466 yards and three scores.  Devin Aromashodu had 26 receptions for 468 yards and a touchdown.  With the Bengals, Jerome Simpson had 50 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns.

I fail to see how the stats, or common sense, could lead someone to believe Ochocinco would “instantly” become the Vikings second best receiver.

The only thing he would instantly become is the Vikings oldest receiver.

Stephen Burton was a late round flier that the Vikings took last year, and he didn’t get a whole lot of chances to prove himself in the post-lockout arena.

However, Burton may be benefiting from a full offseason and could be an interesting guy to keep an eye on as the preseason progresses.  According to Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com, Burton is making an impression during OTA’s and Leslie Frazier has noticed his progress.

“You can see the confidence and that’s a big thing for a receiver, big thing for any young player,” Frazier said. “He has tremendous athletic ability and he is one of those guys who can jump out of the gym and make the acrobatic catch, but his confidence, that’s the one thing that you can see is coming through now.”

Burton is 6’ 1” and weighs 224 pounds, so he has the size and athleticism to be a solid option at wide out, but Wobschall also indicates that Burton will get a chance to prove himself as a return man.

We don’t have the same video evidence as we do with Jerome Simpson (click here), but I can’t help but get a little giddy every time I hear about a young guy progressing… because that is what this offseason is all about.

I had Burton sticking to the 53 man roster in my early projections.

Mike Wobschall makes a living by being one of the Vikings biggest cheerleaders in writing and in front of the camera, so you won’t get much of the disappointing news from his stuff at Vikings.com, but he is also one of the best in the business.  Plus, when other media outlets are not allowed access to practices or other events, he is right there to make sure he keeps us informed.

Through the first two days of Minnesota’s OTA’s, Wobschall has been there to keep us updated on everything.  Here are some highlights, accompanied by links, as to how the first two days have been going.

DAY ONE OBSERVATIONS:  Wobschall tells us that cornerback Antoine Winfield looks to be 100% this offseason and describes him as “spry,” while wide receiver Jerome Simpson showed his capabilities stretching the field, receiver Bryan Walters looked very sharp.  More notes about which players looked good can be found at this link, too.

IMPROVEMENT ON OFFENSE:  The offense, led by quarterback Christian Ponder, is bound to take their lumps as the installation process progresses.  As noted by both Wobschall and Ponder, however, the offense showed marked improvement from day one to day two.

DAY TWO OBSERVATIONSCornerback Chris Cook made one of the best plays of the session and it could have been a defensive score, defensive coordinator Alan Williams is making a Frazier-like impression on his players, middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley is bound and determined to show his critics that he can defend the pass, undrafted cornerback Bobby Felder is a name to keep an eye on as a sleeper candidate, while fullback Matt Asiata turned some heads by making a diving catch way down field.

VIDEO LINKS

Leslie Frazier press conference on Wednesday:  LINK

Christian Ponder press conference on Wednesday:  LINK

Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin continue their rehabilitation by pushing each other:  LINK

An NFL Network report from Minnesota’s OTA’s:  LINK

Just one week ago, the Vikings commenced in weaving their way through seven rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft, and seemingly placing a great emphasis on leadership and character in their selecting their next generation of football players.

In the same week, however, the Vikings welcomed two players of concern back into their building for offseason workouts.

Cornerback Chris Cook was found not guilty in March of charges that he assaulted his girlfriend and tried to strangle her and has now rejoined the team for the first time since the October incident landed him in jail.

“I definitely appreciate it a lot more than I have in the past,” Cook said of being back with his teammates. “This is what I love to do, even though this isn’t the really fun part, it’s kind of hard, but I love doing this. This is the part of the year when you get better.”

“I feel like I have to earn their trust again. I definitely let them down last year by being in the situation I was in and missing the 10 games. I’m really looking forward to earning their trust and being a contributing factor to the team,” he said.

Cook said that he and Leslie Frazier kept in contact during the cornerbacks lengthy legal issues took place.

“It was positive. He’s a very encouraging man, and I respect him a lot. He’s not really been down on me. He’s very supportive of me,” Cook said.

Time will tell if Frazier’s willingness to not come down hard on Cook will pay off.  If Cook turns his life around, then Frazier could be credited with some sort of second-chance mentorship role being the turning point.  If Cook stumbles again, however, then Frazier will likely be blamed for coddling the young cornerback because of his talent on the field.

The other player who has a bit of proving to do is newly acquired receiver Jerome Simpson.  Simpson will begin his tenure with the Vikings by serving a three game suspension for a September incident that landed him in jail on drug trafficking charges.

Simpson was sentenced after he plead not guilty and admitted to his “mistake” and appeared willing to acknowledge his wrong doing, accept the consequences, and move on.

“Everybody knows that (incident) wasn’t my character, what happened, and it’s basically just prove it. You can talk all you want to, but if you don’t prove it, it really doesn’t mean a hill of beans,” Simpson said.

“That wasn’t my characteristics,” Simpson continued in his first meeting with the Minnesota media.  “I’m a good guy, love the community, love kids and everything, and I just made a poor decision.”

Simpson, while grateful for the opportunity, knows full well that he needs to produce positive results on and off the field for the Vikings or else this one year contract could be the last one he ever gets.

“It’s absolutely a ‘prove it’ (season) just because the nature of that I did get in trouble last year and I have to prove to the league, myself and everybody else out there that I deserve to be in this league,” Simpson said.  “(The Vikings) believed in me and I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to come back and play football again.”

Both of these players have the tools and the talent to help the Vikings improve upon their dismal results from 2011, but each will be on a short leash and needs to understand the importance that will be placed on their actions moving forward… not their words.

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