Scoggins: Sherels sticks with Vikings despite size, odds

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2012 - 9:23 PM

A month ago, the former U cornerback seemed unlikely to make the roster. But he's still here, appreciated for his multipurpose value.

hide

Vikings cornerback Marcus Sherels might be an NFL fringe player throughout his career, but his sure-handed work on punt and kick returns helped him earn a spot.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Marcus Sherels' days in a Vikings uniform appeared numbered at the start of training camp, at least from an outside perception.

The diminutive cornerback realistically had little chance to make the final 53-man roster, right? Not with the secondary overhaul that took place this offseason. The Vikings needed to detonate the whole operation after what transpired last season.

Antoine Winfield (injury) and Chris Cook (legal) returned to the lineup as starters. The team drafted Josh Robinson in the third round and signed veteran free agents Chris Carr and Zack Bowman. Brandon Burton, a fifth-round pick in 2011, figured to get a closer look.

NFL coaches always preach that backups and bubble guys shouldn't count numbers in front of them, but the cornerback position looked pretty much filled as the Vikings arrived in Mankato.

So what did Sherels think when he saw all the turnover and new faces at his position?

"The same thing I thought the first day I came here: Just come in and work hard and do my best and see what happens," he said.

That simple, understated approach has served him well. As unlikely as it seemed a month ago, Sherels earned a spot on the active roster and will open the season as the team's primary punt returner. He also could see action at kick returner to limit Percy Harvin's exposure to violent collisions, especially early in the season with wide receiver Jerome Simpson serving a three-game suspension.

Sherels is recovering from an ankle sprain that kept him out of practice Monday. His availability for the opener Sunday against Jacksonville remains unknown, but the fact that he's still around serves as a testament to his perseverance.

"You've got to credit his tenacity," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's one of those guys who's a little bit undersized, but he plays a lot bigger than he is. And he's a multipurpose guy. He does a good job for us on special teams."

Sherels survived the final wave of cuts as the team jettisoned Carr and then Bowman after trading for A.J. Jefferson. In a perfect world, the Vikings won't need Sherels to play many snaps at cornerback. He's not a frontline NFL cornerback, but the Vikings coaching staff clearly trusts him as a returner, particularly in terms of his ability to catch the ball cleanly and not turn it over.

"I take pride in trying to catch it every time," he said.

Sherels is an unlikely success story, a guy who treats every NFL workday as if it could be his last. He will always be a fringe player, forever on the bubble, his job status never secure enough for him to feel comfortable. He understands that reality but doesn't let it drag him down.

He wasn't supposed to make it this far. The former Gopher from Rochester went undrafted and started at the lowest rung possible, on a tryout basis. He weighed 162 pounds at the time and had plans to enter law school if things didn't work out. He turned that tryout into a training camp invite, then practice squad and finally a full-time spot on the 53-man roster last season.

"You never know," he said.

That's Sherels in a nutshell. It takes a crowbar to get him to open up and say more than two sentences about himself. He just quietly goes about his business. He's also unassuming physically at 5-10, 175 pounds. But he competes like he belongs in this profession, and he compensates for any physical limitations by doing whatever necessary to stick around a while longer.

"He really knows how to play football," veteran Antoine Winfield said. "He's a small guy but very smart. His acceleration is unreal. Just watch him. He's quick."

Sherels started three games last season as injuries piled up and even sacked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, although that highlight also inspires a muffled reaction from him.

"I didn't even know it was a sack until after the game," he said. "He broke the pocket and I ran up and tackled him."

Sherels doesn't know if he'll get that kind of opportunity again this season. The Vikings prefer he makes his mark on special teams, but, as last season proved, injuries could thrust him into a more prominent role. Few people would have predicted that scenario a month ago.

Sherels didn't count numbers though. He just quietly did his work and hoped that was good enough.

"I'm happy the Vikings gave me a chance," he said. "I want to prove that I deserve to be here."

Chip Scoggins ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Deduno 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Freeman 3
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
San Diego - WP: R. Erlin 7
Seattle - WP: T. Wilhelmsen 3 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: K. Jepsen 1
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
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: Will Adrian Peterson ever play for the Vikings again?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close