Frazier Discusses Jerome Simpson’s Condition

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 8, 2012 – 4:20 pm

Being able to make on-the-fly adjustments is a necessary skill for NFL teams that want to be successful. The Vikings went through that drill with Jerome Simpson after their speedy receiver experienced discomfort in his leg before Sunday’s victory over the Tennessee Titans. The injury did not prevent Simpson from playing in the game, but it did limit his ability to impact the game.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier held his customary day-after-the-game press conference at Winter Park on Monday and was asked about the situation. He explained that Simpson first experienced the ailment when he woke up on Sunday morning.

“We didn’t know anything was wrong until the morning of the game,” Frazier explained. “I got a call yesterday (Sunday), I got a call, a text actually from (Head Athletic Trainer) Eric Sugarman saying there was something wrong with Jerome. Then when I got to the stadium and he (Sugarman) comes in my office and explains to me what’s going on, it wasn’t the conversation I was expecting to have on a day of the game.”

Frazier described the issue as “numbness, some weakness” in the leg and that Simpson was fine walking but wasn’t able to push off. After observing Simpson workout before the game, doctors and coaches determined that Simpson was at no further risk by playing. So Simpson dressed for the game, but he was unable to make an impact. Simpson was targeted three times and didn’t catch a pass.

“We had a big package for Jerome in this game,” Frazier said. “We really felt like there were some things we could utilize his abilities and make some plays for us.”

The question now is: Will Simpson be able to make any plays for the Vikings any time soon?

“We’ll learn more, as I mentioned, throughout the day,” Frazier said. “But from everything I’ve been told, we shouldn’t be afraid to the point where we’re going to lose him for a long period of time. But everything is not conclusive as we speak.”

While ambiguity remains on Simpson’s condition, nothing Frazier said on Monday should sound any alarms about long-term problems. We’ll keep you posted on the issue and provide updates when appropriate.

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Little Acclaim, Big Results: 3 Vikings Flying Under The Radar

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 8, 2012 – 1:38 pm

The Vikings are off to a fast 4-1 start in 2012, and their good fortune is the result of many great individual efforts. Many of those individuals, such as leading tackler Chad Greenway and do-everything playmaker Percy Harvin, are rightfully receiving acclaim for their contributions.

But as anyone who follows the game of football realizes, team success is also a function of outstanding individual effort that merits little or no acclaim. The Vikings early-season success is not exempt from this rule. So let’s take a moment to recognize three Vikings who are performing well but have not been in the headlines very much.

TE Rhett Ellison
The Vikings have received outstanding contributions from their 2012 draft class to this point, with CB Josh Robinson and S Harrison Smith infusing the secondary with energy and talent, LT Matt Kalil (more on him below) helping to shore up the offensive line, and Blair Walsh off to a tremendous start. Many may not know it, but TE Rhett Ellison should be included in that group as well. He’s played in all 5 of the Vikings regular season games and has been a contributor on special teams as well as offense.

A lot of what Ellison does will not show up in the box score. For example, he was a vital component to the Vikings blocking scheme against San Francisco 49ers DE Justin Smith. A 3-time Pro Bowler, Smith was held in check against the Vikings and finished the game with just 3 tackles. In Sunday’s win over the Titans, though, some of what Ellison can do to help the team did show up in the box score. He had 2 catches for 35 yards, including a 29-yarder late in the 3rd quarter that led to a Vikings TD three plays later.

Ellison can block. He can catch and run. And he can cover kicks or block for returners. That’s why Vikings GM Rick Spielman selected him in the 4th round last April, and that’s why he’s one of three players we’ve identified as a top “under the radar” performer for the Vikings this season.

FB Jerome Felton
It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. That’s perhaps the best way to characterize the contributions of FB Jerome Felton to the Vikings offense. He’s not asked by the team to carry the ball much or run routes. He’s basically an extended family member of the offensive line, paving the way for RB Adrian Peterson and solidifying the pocket for QB Christian Ponder. Some have speculated in the past that Peterson doesn’t like running behind a FB, but I’m going to guess he doesn’t mind running behind Felton. Peterson is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and the Vikings rank 9th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Felton is a big reason why.

“I think Jerome Felton is a guy who hasn’t gotten a lot of recognition,” Vikings QB Christian Ponder said, “but watching him on tape, he’s done a heck of a job lead-blocking for Adrian.”

LT Matt Kalil
In much the same way it’s hard to measure the effectiveness of a FB such as Felton or a “blocking” TE such as Ellison, it can be tricky gauging the performance of an offensive lineman because there’s no box score metric that directly applies to the position. But you don’t need a box score metric or even a bunch of film study to realize how dominant Kalil has been through 5 games. He’s gone against several formidable DEs and he’s held his water without problem. Also, according to one statistical study, the Vikings have run to the left (Kalil’s side) with success – 44 carries for 199 yards (4.5 yards per carry).

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