Aromashodu could offer Vikings needed depth at wide receiver

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 4, 2011 - 11:12 PM

Aromashodu delivered an impressive outing. After totaling nine catches in the Vikings' first 11 games, Aromashodu was targeted 15 times against Denver, making six grabs for 90 yards.

Devin Aromashodu (19)

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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The Vikings are in desperate need of more quality depth at wide receiver. They started Sunday's game with dynamic playmaker Percy Harvin followed on the depth chart by Devin Aromashodu, Greg Camarillo and Stephen Burton, a trio that entered with 13 catches for 275 yards this season.

Yet Aromashodu delivered an impressive outing. After totaling nine catches in the Vikings' first 11 games, Aromashodu was targeted 15 times against Denver, making six grabs for 90 yards.

Aromashodu's contract is up at season's end. And his future with the Vikings is iffy. But receivers coach George Stewart is a big fan. And rookie quarterback Christian Ponder seems to like Aromashodu's skill set, too.

"Devin's a really accountable guy," Ponder said. "He's got speed. He's a little bit bigger, runs great routes and has great hands. It was great to get him the ball."

With four games left in the season, the Vikings are left to determine whether Sunday's outburst is another sign of Aromashodu's big-play potential or just another tease from an inconsistent journeyman.

Either way, the softspoken receiver has plenty left to play for in the next four weeks.

Stepping up

Aromashodu wasn't the only player in Sunday's game to take advantage of increased opportunity.

With Broncos linebacker Von Miller inactive as he recovers from thumb surgery, Mario Haggan started at linebacker and delivered a 16-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first half.

Ponder was firing toward Aromashodu on the play and didn't notice Haggan dropping back into the passing lane.

Miller seemed most excited by Haggan's big play.

"It was amazing to see," Miller said. "I've been rooting for him all week."

Three big errors

Ponder had three turnovers overall. Besides Haggan's interception, Ponder had a costly fumble on the Vikings' second series, a turnover that occurred on third-and-goal from the Denver 8.

Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, racing up to stop Ponder on the run, punched the ball loose, causing it to squirt all the way back to the 32, where it was recovered by Jason Hunter and returned to midfield.

Just like that, a scoring opportunity was wasted.

Ponder's final pass was the most damaging, an ill-advised throw to Harvin that André Goodman intercepted to set up Denver's game-winning score.

"It was just a bad pass by the quarterback," Goodman said. "One that I'm sure he wishes he had back."

Ponder took Sunday's loss hard but said he would not stay down long.

"I'll be fine," he said. "Twenty-four-hour rule. It'll hurt today. But tomorrow I'll watch the film and put it behind me."

Injury update

Defensive end Brian Robison left in the second half because of a concussion and never returned. Chad Greenway also left briefly with a shoulder injury but was able to get back on the field.

Running back Adrian Peterson (ankle) and cornerback Asher Allen (shoulder) were inactive.

That was fast

The Vikings twice allowed second-half scoring drives that lasted less than a minute.

Harvin gave the Vikings a 22-14 lead late in the third quarter with an impressive 52-yard touchdown catch. But Denver's Quan Cosby answered with a 63-yard return on the ensuing kickoff and Tim Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas for a 41-yard touchdown on the next snap.

Harvin again provided an eight-point cushion with a 48-yard TD grab in the fourth quarter.

But Denver scored just a little more than a minute later with a two-play scoring drive that featured a 42-yard Tebow-to-Thomas pass and a 23-yard scoring run by Willis McGahee.

Toby Time

With Peterson on the shelf for the second consecutive game, Toby Gerhart had the best outing of his career, rushing 21 times for 91 yards.

Gerhart added eight catches for 43 yards and displayed his bruising running style throughout.

"I'm feeling it now, that's for sure," Gerhart said. "I have some bumps and bruises; no doubt about that. But that's my nature as a running back."

Etc.

• Ponder's 381 passing yards were the most by a Vikings rookie, breaking the 277 set by Fran Tarkenton in a 1961 game against San Francisco.

• Cornerback Cedric Griffin forced a fumble in the first quarter that led to a Vikings field goal. Griffin has 13 career forced fumbles, second in team history by a defensive back.

• Former Gophers star Eric Decker caught two passes for 25 yards in his homecoming. The second-year Bronco entered the game tied for fourth in the NFL in touchdown catches with eight.

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