Craig: Circumstances might land backup's backup on Vikings' D-line

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 28, 2013 - 7:09 AM

The backup to the backup to the backup to the backup just might make the Vikings at defensive tackle thanks to a variety of circumstances.

Chase Baker isn’t the next man up. He’s two men behind the next man up.

He’s the undersized guy with the unusual number (62) who comes into focus when a once-promising backup (Christian Ballard) leaves for personal reasons, when a prized first-round pick (Sharrif Floyd) has a minor knee procedure, when a potential future Hall of Famer (Kevin Williams) has his right knee buckled by an unnecessary cut block.

“He’s the guy who comes in on the bottom and takes that big step,” said Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, a long-ago bottom-feeder who built himself into a $14 million-a-year All-Pro. “He’s probably grown the most of all the young guys I’ve seen in camp. That’s good because he just might be asked to play a role on this team. We’re hurting at D-tackle right now.”

That sounds strange to hear when you consider the Vikings were loaded at the position just a few weeks ago. But this is the NFL. Things change. They might change back, but you never know.

One summer, a Chase Baker is a rookie free agent being duct-taped to a goal post having Pepto-Bismol dumped over his head. The next summer, he’s being asked to learn the three-technique tackle spot while staying up to speed at nose tackle. Why? Because teammates keep disappearing from practice and the opener is a week and a half away.

“When Sharrif had the thing with his knee last week, they moved me over,” said Baker, who spent all of last season on the Vikings’ practice squad. “It’s unfortunate these things happen, but it is an opportunity for me. Shoot, if I keep doing what I’ve been doing, I can show the Vikings and every other team what I got on Thursday night.”

Thursday night is the preseason finale against the Titans at Mall of America Field. Per NFL tradition, it’s the worst night of football the entire season. Most starters don’t play and nearly all of the position battles are for spots down the depth chart.

Baker is one of those guys who will see extended playing time Thursday. He already has a team-high two tackles for loss because, well, he’s probably played as much as any defensive player on the roster.

The Vikings still hope to have Williams back for the opener. And Floyd is expected to be ready. But in the NFL, hoping and expecting are risky propositions without a Plan B, C or D.

When the Vikings lined up for practice Tuesday, they had six defensive tackles participate. Starting nose tackle Letroy Guion moved to three-technique, making room for backup nose Fred Evans to work with the first unit. The other three tackles besides Baker were rookies Spencer Nealy, Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins.

Of those six healthy tackles, Baker also was the only one to have every possible liquid dumped over his head while duct-taped to the goalpost in Mankato a year ago.

“Why did we do it?” Allen asked. “Because the guy wouldn’t sing.”

“And he refused to dance,” defensive end Brian Robison added.

Apparently, Baker is a really bad singer and dancer. Which sounds about right when you look at the 6-2, 300-pounder.

“I refused to do it, but they kept asking me,” Baker said. “Probably dumb on my part. Rookie mistake.”

Finally, the veterans had enough and tried to trick the rookie into thinking they were going to do “some extra hand work” on the goalpost. Ballard, who had gotten taped and doused the year before, clued Baker in ahead of time.

“I started to run,” Baker said. “I made it 10 yards and then just gave up. It wasn’t worth it. I took my medicine.”

Literally.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 7 FINAL
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
San Francisco 11
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Oakland 7
Seattle 5 FINAL
San Diego 8
Texas 5 FINAL
Los Angeles 10
Colorado 11 FINAL
Arizona 10
Arizona 1 FINAL
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 86 FINAL
Cleveland 87
Detroit 102 FINAL
Miami 109
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Boston 106
Dallas 99 FINAL
Indiana 104
Memphis 89 FINAL
San Antonio 103
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Phoenix 97
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 5 FINAL
Nashville 2
Boston 2 FINAL(OT)
Carolina 1
Detroit 4 FINAL
NY Islanders 5
Florida 4 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Anaheim 2 FINAL
New Jersey 1
Chicago 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
San Jose 2 FINAL(SO)
Pittsburgh 3
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 52 FINAL
Duke 66
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Siena 50 FINAL
Louisiana 52
St Marys-CA 66 FINAL
UCLA 82
(5) Baylor 68 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
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: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close