Job No. 1 for backup running back Toby Gerhart this week will be ball security.
Gerhart fumbled on three carries – ultimately losing two – in the late stages of Sunday’s victory over San Francisco. Those fumbles precipitated much of the late-game officiating problems concerning the 49ers and their timeouts.
For Gerhart, it was a performance he is determined not to repeat.
“We’ll work on that all week,” he said with a wry laugh to reporters Wednesday. “It was one of those fluke things. It was crazy. But it has to get better.”
Gerhart lost three fumbles as a rookie, but recovered his only fumble last season.
“We watched it on tape, and identified some things we’re going to work on this week,” Gerhart said. “I’ll be excited to get on the field to get that first carry, to put it all behind me and move on.”
The key, Gerhart said, is concentrating on the issue without obsessing about it. Also a former baseball player, Gerhart compared it to a catcher getting the yips and not being able to throw the ball back to the pitcher as an example of how something can get out of control.
“If you dwell on it, think about it too much, then you get overly cautious, and you stop running the ball well," he said. "You’re thinking about holding it and being all rigid. It’s one of those things. Yes, you have to address it. Yes, as a running back, it should never come out. At the same time, you can’t think about it too much.”
Gerhart said he will concentrate on wrapping up with both hands when nearing contact in practice this week.
“That’s the way you’ve been taught since you were a kid,” he said. “I got away from that a little bit, maybe, a bit overconfident. Especially in a situation like that, in (late-game situations), where everybody is going for the ball. I’ll definitely be consciouse of it. (Running backs coach James) Saxon always uses the term paranoid awareness, where you don’t want to be too paranoid about it, but you want to be aware of the situation.”
A partisan perception
Yes, just about every player in the Vikings locker room watched Monday’s game between the Packers and Seattle. And yes, to a man, just about everybody agreed that the final call of the game was made in correctly. Just about everybody agrees that Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings should have been credited with an interception on Russell Wilson’s last-gasp pass into the end zone on the final play of the game.
Of course, the officials decided Jennings and Seattle receiver Golden Tate had simultaneous possession of the ball and awarded the Seahawks the game-winning touchdown.
A bad call, the Vikings said. But too bad, they added.
“Well, unfortunately – or fortunately – it was (Green Bay). It was the Packers, so I wasn’t all that disappointed,” joked Gerhart. The Vikings and Packers share a division and are arch rivals, of course.
“That’s a tough way to lose a game,” Vikings receiver Devin Aromashodu said. “It’s unfortunate. (But) I’m definitely OK with it happening to Green Bay. It’s tough to see something like that happen, but it’s OK.”
Rookie safety Harrison Smith said having veterans like cornerback Antoine Winfield speak to the team last week had a big impact on the defense last Sunday.
“Anytime those guys stand up and tell us how it needs to be done, we’re going to do our best to do it their way. Them saying it, then going out and doing it – being examples – makes it that much easier for us to follow them.”