Vikings TE Jim Kleinsasser will complete his 13th and final season on Sunday, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier would like to send the burly-but-affable TE off in style.
“No doubt about it,” Frazier said at his Wednesday press conference. “I’m not letting out any secrets there. If we get down to the one, Chicago, you better stop number 40. We’re going to find a way to try to get him in the end zone if we can.”
If the Vikings are able to get Kleinsasser in the end zone one last time, it’ll be the 8th TD of his career. That’s not a gaudy number for a 13-year veteran TE, but as all Vikings fans know, Kleinsasser’s value to the team is not defined by his line in the box score.
“He’s a guy who has been one of the best, if not the best, blockers in the entire league for his entire career,” Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell said. “Even in his thirteenth year, he’s still one of the best blockers in the league.”
Given Kleinsasser’s background, it should come as no surprise that he has been able to maintain his spot on an NFL roster in three separate decades. A Carrington, North Dakota native who grew up on a crop and beef farm that his family owns to this day, Kleinsasser revels and excels while working in the trenches.
And it’s when Kleinsasser works in the trenches that the Vikings excel. The 6-3, 272-pound tight end with a Paul Bunyan-type frame and hard-nosed nature has helped pave the way for 7 of the top 8 single-season rushing marks in Vikings history, including Adrian Peterson’s team record and NFL-leading 1,760 yards in 2008. He’s also helped 10 different players rush for 100 yards in a game 62 times.
“He’s meant so much to our organization and he’s meant a great deal to me,” Frazier said. “He’s one of those guys you count on. He’s one of our leaders on our team and just a loyal, hard-working guy, tough as nails and someone you can always count on. You know he is going to come to work prepared, ready to do his job, a tremendous example for any young player coming into the League, just his work ethic and the way he approaches things. Just a team player and it would be great for us to send him out on a winning note on Sunday and I told our guys, if you want to thank him for the teammate that he is, let’s find a way to get this ‘W’ in his final game as a Viking. Tremendous person, tremendous player and he has been great for our organization.”
Tags: Jim Kleinsasser, Leslie Frazier, Scott Studwell
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Vikings QB Christian Ponder was forced out of last week’s game against the Washington Redskins after he suffered a concussion in the 3rd quarter, and given the (rightful) sensitivity to head injuries in professional sports these days it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Ponder ruled out for Sunday’s season finale against the Bears at Mall of America Field.
But there was good news on Wednesday. Ponder was a full participant in practice, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said the plan is for Ponder to start on Sunday. Frazier also said he saw some good things from Ponder in the Washington game before he was injured, and that he’s looking for the rookie QB to continue playing well on Sunday.
“I thought he did some good things in that Washington game prior to being injured,” Frazier explained. “He really seemed to be settled down and playing with the confidence we expect and seemed to be having fun in the time that he was out there. I’m optimistic that he’s going to play well in our ball game on Sunday and that’s good for his confidence, good for our team, and it’s a big deal just to continue to try to improve but all of these looks that he is getting now as a rookie should help him in the future.”
Tags: Christian Ponder, Leslie Frazier
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