Three and out: Vikings pregame topics of note
- September 12, 2012 - 10:27 PM
1 If you thought the release of Peyton Manning was the Colts' only major offseason decision on offense, you're mistaken.
As the opening of free agency approached this spring, Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay and new General Manager Ryan Grigson faced a quandary at receiver. The Colts had two playmakers with expiring contracts -- Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon -- but room for only one. Wayne was far more established but was coming off his least productive season since 2003 -- much of that due to Manning's absence last year.
Garcon, at 25, was eight years younger and showing signs he was ready to ascend.
Yet in the end, on the first day of free agency, the Colts reeled Wayne back in with little hesitation.
Yes, Wayne had a more affordable price tag (three years, $17.5 million compared with the five-year, $42.5 million deal Garcon got from the Redskins). But he also possessed the veteran savvy and consistency to be the perfect immediate security blanket for rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Garcon might be faster and a more dangerous deep threat with far less mileage on his odometer. But Wayne remains Mr. Reliable and instantly has become Luck's favorite target.
On Sunday in Chicago, Luck threw 18 of his 45 passes toward Wayne, completing nine for 135 yards. Seven of Wayne's catches went for first downs.
Is it possible Wayne could wind up leading the NFL in receptions with a young quarterback on a team that often might be playing from behind?
Luck lauds Wayne for his understanding of the game and his ability to consistently find ways to get open.
Said Colts coach Chuck Pagano: "[Andrew] understands that Reggie is a 12-year vet, a pro. He understands the game and he's going to be where he is supposed to be."
2 Vikings receiver Devin Aromashodu turned in a somewhat quiet three-catch, 61-yard effort against Jacksonville but could be showing enough to stick around for the full season.
Let's not forget that when Jerome Simpson returns from a three-game suspension Sept. 24, the Vikings will have to clear a roster spot, meaning Aromashodu, Stephen Burton and Michael Jenkins all have somewhat tenuous job security.
So don't underestimate the value of Aromashodu's clutch play late in the opener. All three of his grabs were for first downs and led to Vikings field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime. His biggest catch was the 26-yarder from Christian Ponder that came with 7 seconds left in regulation, pushing the Vikings into range for Blair Walsh's tying 55-yard field goal.
Percy Harvin was Ponder's first read on that play. Yet Aromashodu worked open, instinctively slowing up and running a bit deeper on his dig route after he sensed Jacksonville's Dawan Landry lurking in the middle of the field.
"His instincts are crazy good," Ponder said. "For him to feel that [defender] that's inside of him and settle in that hole, it's great we were on the same page."
Receivers coach George Stewart talks to Aromashodu all the time about the need to deliver on "moment of truth plays." That 26-yard grab certainly was a moment of truth.
Said Ponder: "Ended up winning the game for us."
3 Jerome Felton is quickly earning the trust of the coaching staff.
The fifth-year fullback saw extensive action in the season opener and handled himself well in his Vikings debut, clearing a path for Adrian Peterson on several big runs and holding up well in pass protection. Felton's heightened role -- he was in on 32 of the Vikings' 58 offensive snaps -- wasn't necessarily part of the game plan.
"A lot of it had to do with the way he played and what's happening when he is on the field," coach Leslie Frazier said. "It was really encouraging for all of us to see him dominate the way he did."
Don't be surprised if Felton gets plenty of action again Sunday.
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