#5 – CB Lito Sheppard
#4 – WR Bernard Berrian
We kicked off our “Gaining The Extra Edge” series on Tuesday by presenting CB Lito Sheppard as a player (not including obvious stars such as Jared Allen or Brett Favre) who holds the key to the Vikings gaining the extra edge in 2010. Today we introduce #4 on the list and he is WR Bernard Berrian.
With the emergence of WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice last year, one might question the inclusion of Berrian on this list. I don’t doubt that Harvin and Rice will be pillars in the Vikings passing game again in 2010, but I also know that opposing teams will be zeroed in on them. And that’s where the 7th year pro out of Fresno State comes in.
Berrian was a 3rd round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2004, but the 6-1, 185-pound WR signed with the Vikings as a free agent prior to the 2008 season and then delivered on expectations. Coming off a 2006 season in which he helped lead the Bears to the Super Bowl, Berrian followed up that effort by registering career highs in receptions (71) and receiving yards (951) in 2007, which made him the best free agent WR available prior to the 2008 season. In his 1st season with the Vikings, Berrian led the NFL with a 20.1 yards per catch average.
The speedy, big-play WR had the Vikings 5 longest receptions of the 2008 season and led the club in receiving yards 8 times. Berrian also had 4 of the Vikings longest 5 TD catches (99t, 86t, 54t, 49t) and he put up his 3 highest single-game receiving yardage days of his career – 131 vs. Detroit, 122 vs. Chicago and 110 at New Orleans. And no one will forget the 99-yard TD reception he had against the Bears in a significant Week 13 Sunday Night Football win – it was a play that personified the element #87 brings to every snap.
The 2009 season was not quite as grand for Berrian. I believe a preseason injury he suffered in Indianapolis prevented him from developing an early rapport with QB Brett Favre and the results lingered throughout the season. But now with a full season of Favre under his belt and because he was at Winter Park for much of the team’s offseason program, Berrian is poised to regain his 2008 form and add yet another lethal weapon to a Vikings offense that ranked 2nd in points per game in 2009.
With Berrian at his best, the Vikings pass offense improved from 28th in 2007 to 25th in 2008. With Favre at his best, the Vikings pass offense jumped from 25th in 2008 to 8th in 2009. And now with Berrian at his best and playing with Favre, the Vikings offense may very well make another leap forward and help the club gain that extra edge in 2010.
Tags: Bernard Berrian
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