When healthy and playing in games, WR Jerome Simpson has been a productive player for the Vikings. Against the Detroit Lions in Week 4, he was the team’s leading receiver with 4 receptions for 50 yards, plus he drew a pair of pass interference penalties downfield that led to scores.
The only problem is that’s really the only game Simpson was healthy and on the field. He missed the first three games due to a suspension, returned for Week 4, and then woke up with leg numbness/weakness the morning of the Vikings Week 5 contest against Tennessee. The leg condition limited Simpson’s impact in the Titans game, and it subsequently limited him in practice all week leading up to last Sunday’s game in Washington.
Simpson was listed as questionable for the Redskins game, but made the trip with his teammates and was hopeful of being in the lineup. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier decided against it, though, and instead deactivated him for the game. The Vikings could’ve used some extra juice in the passing game against the Redskins, and Simpson is capable of providing it.
“Just that Thursday and Friday when he worked, I just, even in talking with him, realized he couldn’t push off the way he wanted to,” Frazier said on Wednesday. “He wasn’t comfortable mentally completely with where he was. Just wanted to be smart, give him a little bit more time. It’s a long season, and he feels good today (Wednesday) and that’s good sign, so we’ll see how he does in practice.”
Simpson did well in practice, at least according to the injury report. He was listed as a full participant in practice, a status he never accomplished last week while preparing to play the Redskins. Being a full participant in practice on Wednesday is a big first step in being given the green light to play on Sunday. But work remains, coaches and the Vikings medical staff will be curious to see how Simpson’s body responds to the first day of practice.
“Oh, no question,” Frazier responded when asked if he was still looking for a step forward from Simpson this week in practice. “Don’t want to put him in a situation where you feel like he can’t protect himself or do the things he needs to do to play at the level he wants to play at and that we want him to play at, for sure.
“He says he’s fine so he’ll get a chance to practice today (Wednesday) and go through everything so we’ll reassess it after practice, but he feels like he’s ready to go.”
While Frazier and the Vikings demonstrated last week that they won’t take any chances with a player’s health by putting him in a game before he’s ready, the sense coming from Winter Park on Wednesday is that Simpson came a step closer to being in the lineup this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. No one is making any promises yet, but so far the indications are good.
“I hope so,” Frazier said. “As I mentioned on Monday, he’s a competitor, he’s a guy who wants to be out there and we want him out there as well. He’s a weapon that we sorely would love to have on the field. He has big-play capability and we want to utilize his abilities.”
Tags: Jerome Simpson, Leslie Frazier
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