Chip Scoggins: Vikings' Carlson expects his time to come

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 30, 2012 - 8:10 AM

A camp injury left him catching up, but the tight end is both patient and confident.

hide

Vikings tight end John Carlson has done very little in three games this season.

Photo: Genevieve Ross, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave called a play designed to get John Carlson free down the sideline as Christian Ponder's primary target.

At the snap, Carlson cut through traffic near the line as Ponder gave a quick pump fake to Percy Harvin on a screen. The plan got scuttled, however, when San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis smartly recognized Carlson's intentions and smothered him in man coverage, something the Vikings weren't expecting. Ponder countered by tucking the ball and running 23 yards through the teeth of the 49ers defense for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Vikings' 24-13 victory last week.

That read-and-react moment by Ponder provided another measurable sign of progress in the young quarterback's development. But it also left Carlson's catch total stuck on zero after three games with his hometown team.

"Christian made the right play," Carlson said. "He shouldn't have thrown that ball."

Carlson has maintained a positive outlook despite his negligible impact. He's been targeted on only two passes in three games and played 65 snaps total, according to ProFootballFocus.

That's hardly the contribution the Vikings anticipated when they signed the veteran tight end and Litchfield native to a five-year, $25 million contract with $11 million guaranteed this past offseason.

The sample size is too small to make sweeping statements or assumptions, but two targets and no catches is at least a curious development for an offense that envisioned employing creative double-tight end sets with Carlson and Kyle Rudolph.

"The chips just haven't fallen in the right spot for him to receive the ball, but they will," Musgrave said. "He's going to get plenty of catches. It just hasn't happened yet."

Carlson doesn't blame anyone or project any frustration for his slow start. He's not pouting about it. He put in extra work after practices this week. He worked on his hand placement on the blocking sled and ran routes and caught passes from third-teamer McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

"I came in here to contribute to this offense and to help this team win," he said. "Offensively, we're doing great. Percy [Harvin] is playing out of this world. Kyle is having a big year already. Adrian [Peterson] and Toby [Gerhart] are doing great. Productivity-wise, obviously I'd like to contribute more. But I need to prove that I deserve a role in this offense."

That process usually happens in training camp, but Carlson suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the second full-pads practice. He essentially missed all of camp, which put his timing and development with a new offense and new quarterback behind schedule. Carlson missed the 2011 season in Seattle because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder so his knee injury cost him valuable reps toward getting reacclimated to football.

"Absolutely there was rust, and there still is rust," he said. "But that's the way it is. I can't change that. The focus is to continue to improve."

Carlson's track record suggests he can be a viable target in the passing game when he's healthy and in the flow of the offense. He posted consecutive 50-catch seasons in Seattle and possesses the body type and athleticism that teams covet in pass-catching tight ends these days.

The Vikings need his presence in the passing game to provide some balance. Ponder has developed a connection and confidence with Rudolph and Harvin as his primary options. Those two have combined for 40 of Ponder's 68 completions.

Jerome Simpson joins the mix Sunday after serving his three-game suspension and should bring a vertical threat. Simpson's arrival presumably means fewer opportunities for others, but the Vikings are confident Carlson will carve out a meaningful role.

"We know what he can do," Ponder said. "We've seen him in practice, and he's practiced well and he's done well. We just have to continue to find ways to give him the ball. He'll come around."

Carlson doesn't sound concerned, either. He understands that Ponder has a certain trust level and rapport with Rudolph and Harvin. He believes his time will come soon, too.

"I know I can make plays in the passing game, but I have to earn that right to get my number called," he said. "When it is called, I need to step up and make plays."

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 83 4th Qtr 7:57
Golden State 93
Washington 86 4th Qtr 5:35
LA Lakers 83
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 3 3rd Prd 4:03
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
UNLV 67 FINAL
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 55 2nd Half 11:23
Boise State 51
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60
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 NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close