Gerhart pays dues, learns from it

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 16, 2011 - 12:20 AM

The running back's introduction to the NFL wasn't easy, but he enters Year 2 more confident.

hide

Toby Gerhart has caught the eye of coach Leslie Frazier. β€œHe’s running with great authority,’’ Frazier said.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The lesson came with unexpected force, enough that you might understand if Toby Gerhart didn't remember it. Or, at the very least, had tried to forget it.

But he does remember.

Last summer, at his first NFL training camp practice, he learned the difference between college and the pros.

Practice was in shells -- helmet and shoulder pads. Gerhart ran out of the backfield, caught a screen pass. Enter defensive tackle Pat Williams.

"I turned and he just de-cleated me," Gerhart said after Monday's Vikings practice at Winter Park. He was smiling at the memory. Really. "I was like, 'We're not even in full pads.' It was ... I didn't know what to expect."

Now, he does. And that is making all the difference as Gerhart tries to carve out a larger role as the backup to star running back Adrian Peterson.

A season ago Gerhart came out of Stanford as a second-round draft pick with gaudy numbers and a reputation for being a power runner. For the first weeks of training camp, the veterans made sure he paid his dues. Williams clobbered him early and often, then talked at length about it. This wasn't college anymore, he said. Time to test the college kid. There was a scuffle with defensive end Ray Edwards. At times it looked as if Gerhart had a horn on his helmet and a target on his back.

Gerhart holds no nostalgia for that camp. Nor does he have any lasting bruises, either literal or figurative. But he will tell you that going through it all made him stronger.

"I was known for being a power runner, and I got tested, early and often, in training camp," he said. "There were dues to be paid, evidently. And I feel I grew from that."

A year ago, by his own admission, Gerhart was a bit tentative, perhaps slowed by the thought process of becoming an NFL back. He recalls obsessing about his footwork, every little detail. He remembers counting his steps while running routes. "I was being really robotic," he said. "You know, one, two, counting my steps rather than just playing football like I've always done."

This time, Gerhart said, it's different. He says he's more relaxed, confident.

Will that translate into more opportunity? It always will be difficult playing behind Peterson. And while the previous coaching regime might have groomed Gerhart as a third-down back, he appears to be penciled in as Peterson's power-running backup. Indeed, Lorenzo Booker could emerge as a third-down option.

Still, with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's dedication to the run, there should be opportunity. Gerhart also could see some snaps while on the field with Peterson. It's up to Gerhart to prove he's ready.

"Toby came back in much better shape than his rookie year, when he wasn't sure what NFL football was like," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's running with great authority. He reminds you much more now of what he did in college, the way he attacks the hole. He has a real good run in [Saturday's game, a 9-yarder]. We have high hopes for Toby really being able to help us in that backup role."

That might be why Gerhart is more relaxed and more confident. Having already paid his dues helps, too.

"It was about stepping in there, keeping your mouth shut and playing," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "He did that very well. ... We've seen marked improvement from him from camp to camp."

  • related content

  • Herrera returns earlier than expected

    Tuesday August 16, 2011

    Vikings right guard Anthony Herrera returned sooner than expected from the physically-unable-to-perform list, joining the first team in group installation for Monday's practice at Winter Park.

  • VIKINGS PRESEASON

    Up next: 9 p.m. Saturday at Seattle • TV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 5 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 4
Milwaukee - LP: Z. Duke 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: D. Thayer 3
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 3 FINAL
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 1
Miami - LP: H. Alvarez 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: H. Santiago 6
Colorado - LP: J. Nicasio 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 4
Atlanta 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close