Patrick Reusse: Udeze believes he must prove himself again

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 28, 2007 - 1:50 PM

The defensive end with a strong work ethic aims to make an impact after his season-ending injury in 2005 and his sack slump in '06.

MANKATO — The Southern Cal offense was a magnificent machine in its 28-14 victory over Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl.

Matt Leinart threw for 327 yards and was voted the game's MVP. Keary Colbert and Mike Williams combined for 14 receptions for 237 yards. The Trojans also had their choice of Reggie Bush and LenDale White as running backs.

For all this firepower, a case could be made that the best USC player on the field was defensive end Kenechi Udeze. He had three sacks, another tackle for loss and a forced fumble.

Udeze entered the NFL draft after that junior season and was taken at No. 20 by the Vikings. Witnesses to that Rose Bowl performance offered congratulations to Scott Studwell, Mike Tice and the rest of the Vikings' decisionmakers for the Udeze selection.

Udeze started 15 games as a rookie and had an acceptable five sacks. Included was a forced fumble against Jacksonville's Byron Leftwich that led to a 77-yard touchdown rumble by Kevin Williams.

The Vikings had no reason for regrets after that first year. Udeze has had one sack and one major knee surgery in the two seasons since.

He was having a strong third game of the 2005 season against New Orleans when he injured the left knee. He missed the final 13 games and had surgery.

Udeze came back to start 15 games in 2006 for rookie coach Brad Childress. He led the team with 13 tackles for loss. He also tied for last with zero sacks.

"He was this close," Childress said Friday, when asked about Udeze's absence of a sack. " ... He's a good football player."

This was the coach's media session after the first practice of training camp, and "this close" was demonstrated by Childress holding an index finger and a thumb an inch apart.

Udeze was credited with 41 quarterback hurries. That's a subjective statistic kept by teams and not the NFL. But to hurry the quarterback 41 times and not stumble into a sack sounds as preposterous as Joe Mauer batting .331 with runners in scoring position in 2005 and totaling 55 RBI.

Nose tackle Pat Williams, in an interview with the Star Tribune's Mark Craig at minicamp time, said of Udeze's sack slump: "I think he let it bother him too much."

The Vikings' new regime decided not to resign Lance Johnstone after the 2005 season. He was the right-side pass rusher and led the '05 Vikings with 7½ sacks.

The plan was for Erasmus James to fill Johnstone's role. James suffered a knee injury in the second game, and Udeze became a right-side fixture.

That's the blind side for most quarterbacks. That's where the sacks are supposed to come from. So, yes, getting none, for a player with Udeze's proud USC pedigree ... it had to bother him.

"I can't describe what was going on [with no sacks]," he said. "All I can say is that will never happen again."

Udeze's original contract has two seasons left. Yet, once the bonus money is paid, all power in the NFL goes to management. There's a sense around the Vikings that Udeze must make an impact in 2007 or he could be down the road.

Big year, sir?

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 3rd Prd 6:53
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56


question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the hockey season?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters