Kickin’ It With KAB
Football season is nearly here which means I am once again allowed to write about things that are, you know… interesting. My old pal Darren Campbell from Kick Ass Blog asked me to do a little Q&A session with him and, of course, I was thrilled to do so.
We did six total jottings about various subjects. There are three in this post and the other three can be found at his blog by clicking here.
4. Jerome Simpson – what will his stats be at the end of the season?
Adam: Should his stats be measured in yards or ounces?
All kidding aside, it is hard to get overly excited about a guy that will play no more than 13 games during the regular season. Heck, if this season turns out anything like last year, the franchise could be in complete shambles by the time he is even allowed to play.
He certainly has an ability to stretch the field and adds in some jaw dropping athleticism, but consistency has always been his issue. The drops need to stop. I’m going to be optimistic here, however, and say that he tops 800 yards on the season and throws in two or three touchdowns.
Darren: Oh, Adam, way to pick the low hanging fruit. I’m penciling Simpson in for 49 catches, 680 yards and five touchdowns. Not fantastic numbers, but enough to earn him a long-term contract in 2013 (whether that will be with the Vikings is another question). Like Adam said, consistency is an issue with Simpson. And is he physically strong enough to beat jams off the line and get open to make those big plays down the field for the Vikings? This team really needs a wide receiver (other than Percy Harvin, who is a completely different kind of player) they can pencil in for five-to-seven catches for 80-100 receiving yards every game. I see Simpson as the kind of player who will have some big games, but in other games will disappear.
5. What rookie has been the most impressive during training camp and the preseason?
Adam: It is hard to argue with Audie Cole at this point. A Vikings defender that takes advantage of bad throws? Then has the presence of mind to return it for a score? Twice? In back-to-back plays? Again, a Vikings defender?
That is just unheard of in recent years and I have to say those two plays alone have made him stand out more than any other rookie, including Kalil and Smith, and I hope he gets a chance to move up the depth chart to see if he can hang with the elite talent or not.
Darren: I like Cole, but kicker Blair Walsh has been the Vikings rookie who has looked the best to me. I did not like this pick at all in April. It’s hard for me to diss it now. He’s made, what, eight of nine field goals and he’s consistently booting kickoffs five-to-10 yards into the end zone – a nice change after watching Ryan Longwell’s kickoffs barely make it to the opposing team’s 20-yard line for six years. Walsh has been better than advertised. I do wonder, though, how he will react if he has a stretch where he misses three or four makeable field goals over a short period. Will he get the yips? That’s my concern with Walsh right now.
6. What unheralded Viking player has stood out the most so far?
Adam: I have only ever known two Dolphins fans in my life, but they both happen to be my best friends. So, as a result, I have seen a Fins game or two over the years. That is why I was somewhat excited to hear that the Vikings had signed Lex Hilliard.
Hilliard had always struck me as an underrated back with some deceiving moves and nifty hands that was underutilized in Miami because of their addiction to the Wild Cat. To me, he appears to be the exact sort of Mr. Dependable that the Vikings need in their backfield as an insurance policy and a nice change up from time to time. His versatility is something Spielman surely considered when signing him, and I consider him a lock to make the roster at this point, which makes me feel pretty comfortable with the run game even with Peterson still on the mend.
Darren: I’m surprised to read that Adam thinks Hilliard’s stood out because I think he’s looked like garbage. There’s no burst there. No wiggle. No anything. I understand he’s a solid special teams player, but even giving him that, at this point I wouldn’t want to see him make the team. Matt Asiata looks much better to me as an option as the Vikings third running back.
But rather than continuing to rag on Adam’s selection, I should write about my own. Defensive end Nick Reed is a guy who has surprised me in the two preseason games. He’s tipped a couple of passes and against the Bills he consistently generated pressure from the outside. He’s bounced around the league a bit, and at 6’2 and 250, he’s pretty small even for a pass rushing DE. I don’t expect him to make the team; all I know is I’m noticing him every time he’s on the field. He might be a guy worth stashing on the practice squad. You can never have too many DEs who can get after the quarterback.