Wednesday, July 27, 2016

matt asiata

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re-sign Matt Asiata
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings have announced that running back Matt Asiata has re-signed with the team which makes him the ninth unrestricted free agent to sign a new contract with the team this offseason. Cornerback Josh Robinson was the only unrestricted free agent to depart, as well as Mike Wallace who was released by the team. That ratio of returning players versus those that are departing is pretty impressive, really.

Coming out of Utah, Asiata has played in 58 games and has 10 starts credited to his name. He is 28 years old and known as a short yardage back, particularly effective in goalline situations, but can produce the occasional surprise in open space or even catching the ball.

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re-sign Matt Asiata
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Adrian Peterson is the bell-cow for the Minnesota Vikings, but the team remains steadfast in it’s three-pronged running back approach. The electric, do-it-all Jerick McKinnon will likely see an expanded role in 2016, reducing Matt Asiata‘s already limited touches out of the backfield. Despite the development, general manager Rick Spielman appears open to bringing the four-year veteran back next season.

According to Drew Boylhart of the Huddle Report, the Vikings wants to re-sign Asiata, who is set to become a free agent on March 9th. Asiata re-signed on a one-year deal at the start of free agency last year, and he’ll likely return at a similar price. He played just 198 offensive snaps in 2015, rushing 29 times for 112 yards and catching 19 passes for 132 yards.

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Vikings NFL Draft Sleepers
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Every Sunday during Draft Season, Carl and the team at Vikings Territory release scouting reports on sleeper prospects. They’re players many may not recognize, but should get to know as the 2016 NFL Draft approaches. This time of the year, the biggest names dominate the headlines, but other players taken in the later rounds can often have more of an impact than the top-32 picks.

Players like Danielle Hunter (3rd-round) and Stefon Diggs (5th-round) were more important to the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 than Trae Waynes, the team’s 11th-overall selection. Each made significant contributions on defense and offense, while Waynes was relegated to a role as the punt team’s gunner. He played well in spot duty, especially against the Seattle Seahawks, but to say he outperformed his teammates would be lying.

Sometimes, it’s the players we least expect who have the most immediate success in the NFL. That’s why I’ve asked the team here to name their favorite under-the-radar prospects; the players they love that no one’s talking about.

Who is one draft prospect you love that no one is talking about?

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The theme of today’s Sleeper Sunday is Big-10 football. This morning, Carl introduced readers to Wisconsin strong safety Michael Caputo. He’s a physical member of the Badgers secondary with a style of play and frame similar to that of Harrison Smith. Now, a look at one of the conference’s best-kept secrets; Indiana running back Jordan Howard.

Jordan Howard — RB, Indiana

Measurements

Height – 6’1″
Weight – 230 lbs.
Age – 21

At First Glance

As a first-year player at Indiana, the junior rushed for 1,213 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. Howard was named to the First Team All-Big Ten after the season and was a member of the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award Watch Lists. He caught 11 passes for 106 yards for a touchdown and also finished second in the conference with 134.8 rushing yards per game.

Before the 2015 season, Howard had spent two seasons a the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). A two-star recruit in 2013, the Alabama native opted to stay in-state for his collegiate career. There, he rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and scored 15 touchdowns on the ground. In November 2014, UAB disbanded it’s football program and left Howard without a home. Fortunately, other Division 1 schools had kept an eye on the productive running back. With his pick of more than 20 programs, Howard made the decision to replace Tevin Coleman in Indiana. That choice appears to have been the right one.

“I think a lot of us, me and my former teammates we realize it was kind of like a blessing in disguise,” Howard said in October. “It gave us an opportunity to be more in the spotlight and show we can play on any type of level.”

Who will coach Adrian Peterson next season?

running backs coach Kirby Wilson
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In his first full season under running backs coach Kirby Wilson, Adrian Peterson put together one of his most successful campaigns. Last year, he rushed for 1,485 yards and won the league’s rushing title at 30 years-old. Unfortunately, he’ll be without Wilson on the sidelines in 2016. According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Wilson signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns to become their running game coordinator next season.

Earlier this week, the Vikings blocked the Browns’ request to interview Wilson prior to his contract expiring on Tuesday, per ESPN 1500. While addressing the media last week, Zimmer refused to speculate on Wilson’s future in Minnesota. “Kirby is under contract. Period,” he told reporters. Once Wilson’s contract expired, the Browns were free to negotiate. They offered the 17-year coaching veteran an upgraded title, making it impossible for the Vikings to retain Wilson.

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