Purple Shadows: Players You May Not Know That Hold the Vikings Together
When you think of the Minnesota Vikings, Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson probably comes to mind (with the exception of this week).
You may also think of the Williams wall, cornerback Antoine Winfield, and defensive end Jared Allen.
Yes, all of these guys are a huge reason the Vikings won the NFC North Division Title last year, but not the only reason.
Here is a list of some of the Vikings players you maybe not know a lot about, but each contributed a lot to the Vikings' reign last year.
Eric Frampton, Safety
With special teams ace Heath Farwell out for the year, after suffering a knee injury in the opening preseason game, someone needed to step up on punt and kick coverage. Eric Frampton, a second-year player who was drafted by the Raiders in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Washington State, came up big for the Vikes.
Frampton only recorded 12 tackles on the year, but many could see he was a leader of the special teams unit. I know coverage was not a strength for the Vikings in 2008, but without Eric Frampton shooting down the field, things could have been much worse.
Charles Gordon, Cornerback
The Vikings signed Gordon to a rookie free agent contract following the 2006 NFL Draft out of Kansas, most likely as a punt and kick returner. However, Gordon has worked his way up the depth chart at corner and was a solid nickel back during the first nine games of the 2008 season.
However, that quickly came to a halt when Gordon's season was ended due to a severe ankle injury he suffered when returning a punt against Green Bay. Although he missed the rest of the season, the Vikings were fortunate to have his presence in the secondary until week 10. Gordon signed a one-year tender from the team and will compete for the nickel back job this summer in training camp.
Jim Kleinsasser, Tight End
Although Jim Kleinsasser is well known and liked by Vikings fans, I don't think he is well recognized around the league. Now, am I saying he is Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates? Absolutely not. Kleinsasser only caught six passes for 92 yards in 2008. What many don't see is the presence he brings to run and pass blocking.
On the end of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Kleinsasser has been opening holes for Vikings running backs since being drafted by Minnesota in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft out of North Dakota. He recently signed a three-year contract to remain with the team and finish his career in Minnesota.
Fred Evans, Defensive Tackle
With Pat Williams out the last two games of the regular season and the NFC Wild Card Game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Fred Evans filled in nicely with the Vikings run-stuffing defense. Evans was signed as a free agent in 2007 from the Miami Dolphins and has served as a solid backup to the Williams Wall.
The biggest game Evans played in was that playoff game against the Eagles. In that game, the Vikings defense rarely missed a beat stopping the run, holding running back Brian Westbrook to 38 yards on 20 carries. The Vikings are most likely relieved by having a solid backup to Pat Williams, especially with the chance of he and Kevin Williams' potential suspension for the first four games of the 2009 season.
Brian Robison, Defensive End
Robison, drafted in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Texas by the Vikings, really showed why the team drafted him with his play in 2008. With Jared Allen and Ray Edwards starting at the end positions on the Vikings defense, Robison did everything he could to prove he deserved to be in the mix.
He consistently provided a pass rush when on the field, pressuring quarterbacks to make throws into coverage. Look for Robison to push for a starting job soon in his career.
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