Vikings running back Ben Tate arrived to the Twin Cities on Thursday morning after he was claimed off waivers from the Browns.
When asked if he was surprised that the Browns waived him on Tuesday, Tate said, “Yeah. Of course. A little bit.” Tate dealt with a 24 hour period of uncertainty on where he’d land before the Vikings won the rights to Tate on Wednesday.
“It was tough,” Tate said on the last two days. “After being claimed, I’ve got a girl and a little boy so it’s definitely tough trying to get situated with that. Just traveling, not much sleep and not much eating. I’m starving.”
Tate practiced with the team, mixing in every few plays during each period as he gets situated with offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense. He’s never played underneath Turner, nor a system similar to what Turner runs.
He’s not sure whether the Vikings will activate him on Sunday, and that likely depends on the status of running backs Matt Asiata (concussion) and Jerick McKinnon (low back).
“I really didn’t know what to know what to expect,” McKinnon said about Tate’s acquisition. “I knew about him. I’m a younger guy, so I watched him in college (Auburn) and a little bit in the pros before I came out. I know he brings a lot to the table. I don’t know what the role is going to be for me or any other back or him, but I know he’ll bring some good contributions to the team and I’ll be excited to see what he does.”
Tate said he understands the Vikings current situation at running back, with Adrian Peterson suspended for at least the remainder of this season, but taking over as the lead back this year and possibly into next season isn’t what he’s worried about at the moment.
“I’m just focused on here and now, trying to learn this playbook, trying to do everything to the best of my ability, 100 percent,” Tate said. Trying to fit in, trying to learn the guys and just trying to become a member of this team; that’s my only focus right now.”
We’re experiencing some issues with post showing up relatively quickly. And by relatively quick, we’re still waiting for the final from Super Bowl IX to show up …
But here goes. The injury report from today’s practice:
Missing practice entirely: RB Matt Asiata (concussion), WR Greg Jennings (rib) and DT Sharrif Floyd (knee). In an earlier post that hadn’t shown up, coach Mike Zimmer said Asiata was still going through his league concussion protocol. Asked about Floyd, Zimmer said the big fella “has a bruise” and it’s “nothing serious.”
Limited in practice: WR Jarius Wright (hamstring), RB Jerick McKinnon (low back), OT Mike Harris (ankle) and LB Anthony Barr (knee). Wright and McKinnon didn’t practice Wednesday.
Full participation in practice: CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle), DE Everson Griffen (neck), TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) and DE Scott Crichton (hip).
Adrian Peterson has appealed his NFL-mandated suspension, which runs through April 15 of next year, through the NFL Players Association.
A letter from the NFLPA e-mailed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been published by ESPN.
The letter outlines the familiar reasons previously espoused by the NFLPA, which clearly feels Peterson’s discipline is a product of Goodell’s desire to crack down more firmly on violators in wake of the Ray Rice incident. The letter says no first-time violator of the league’s disciplinary policy has served more than a two-game suspension.
Peterson’s appeal will be heard on Dec. 2. Goodell also hears the appeals, but the NFLPA asked for a neutral arbitrator.
The Vikings claimed former Texans and Browns running back Ben Tate off waivers yesterday, adding him to a backfield that right now is missing its three top running backs from back in Week 1.
Adrian Peterson, of course, is suspended for the rest of the season. Matt Asiata is dealing with a concussion, putting his status for Sunday’s game against the Packers in doubt. And Jerick McKinnon, the current starter, has been dealing with a lower back injury that kept him out of practice yesterday.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner explained that the decision to claim Tate, who was waived by the Browns on Tuesday, was more about the numbers game at the position than anything else.
“I’ve never been with Ben Tate and I’m not real familiar,” Turner said. “Obviously, we’re in a situation where yesterday we had one back that could practice, so the timing of him being released and the opportunity for us to add a back, certainly it was good timing. And we’re getting started with Ben and trying to teach him our system and hopefully get him where he can be ready to go contribute.”
Turner isn’t sure how much Tate can contribute this weekend, as he only has a couple of days to learn the playbook. Turner said the Vikings can only dumb down the offense for Tate so much.
“We’ll see what our situation is,” Turner said. “Obviously you water it down too much then those guys on the other side, it’s pretty obvious to them. But hopefully there are some things we can get him involved with.”
As for McKinnon, Turner said the addition of Tate has nothing to do with how they feel about the rookie, who was back at practice this afternoon.
“We’re excited about Jerick and what he’s done and I see him as our running back,’’ Turner said. “He’s been limited in practice last week and couldn’t practice yesterday. Hopefully he can practice today. So you’ve got to protect yourself, obviously with Matt not being able to practice yesterday and in doubt as to whether he’ll play or not.’’
Cordarrelle Patterson’s smile was impossible to miss late last season as he maneuvered into the end zone with regularity. Even early this season, when things weren’t going as well, Patterson would still flash his pearly whites. He couldn’t help it. That’s his nature.
But now, 10 games into a disappointing season in which he has just 28 catches and two total touchdowns, the smile is gone and frustration has set in. Patterson is now acknowledging that his play has been a letdown, and today he put the burden of blame on himself.
“I don’t matter what the defenses do,” he said. “This is my job. I need to find a way to get open.”
On Monday, head coach Mike Zimmer was asked if he was disappointed in the play of the second-year wide receiver. He didn’t say yes, but he carefully chose his words when talking about how Patterson is a young player who still has plenty to learn. Zimmer pointed out that Patterson was learning a new offense for a third straight year and said he still thinks Patterson will be a good one.
Today, Patterson was asked if he was bothered by Zimmer’s assessment of his development.
“Why would that hurt? I’m a grown man,” he said. “Stuff like that shouldn’t hurt me. Coach Zimmer is right. I’ve been in three different offenses in three years. It’s a lot of learning. At the end of the day, this is my job. This is something I need to just focus on, just this main job. And whatever Coach Zimmer says is right. Even though I probably won’t think it’s right, he’s the head coach and whatever he says goes.”
Patterson has been targeted 59 times but caught just 28 of those passes. With 332 receiving yards, he is averaging just 11.9 yards per catch. And the touchdowns, where have they gone? He had nine last season as a receiver, runner and returner. This year he’s been in the end zone just twice.
So Cordarrelle, what kind of numbers were you expecting to put up this season?
“Not where they’re at right now,” Patterson said. “They’ve been disappointing and I know I’m letting a lot of people down. It’s tough. It’s very tough out here, man. It’s a struggle sometimes. Offensively, and me, just got to find that groove and just get it going.”
Until then, it seems we won’t see that smile as often as we had grown accustomed to.
“I just need to focus in and just go out and play ball, man, just have fun, like last year,” Patterson said. “I was having a lot of fun last year. This year it seems like I’m not having as much fun as last year. I just need to find that little missing piece and just have some fun.”
Impact @BenTateRB will have sunday #VikingsST
— Brian Taylor (@twilightfoci) November 19, 2014
He might be forced to help immediately. The biggest concern with the Vikings at the position is running back Matt Asiata, who didn’t practice on Wednesday as he goes through the concussion protocol. Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon played through a low back injury last week, but he missed practice as well.
That would explain why the Vikings signed running back Dominique Williams to the practice squad with their open spot after cornerback Pierre Warren was signed by the Saints. They need help at the position and multiple options in case either, or both, can’t play against the Packers.
I think he can be serviceable, but I’m not banking on a 100-yard rushing performance. Tate hasn’t played under offensive coordinator Norv Turner before, and I’m not sure if he’s played in a similar system before, so they’d likely have to simplify some elements of the run game so Tate can be useful three days before the game. It’s a difficult situation to prepare a player in such a limited amount of time, but it gives the Vikings an experienced back for at least the rest of the season and possibly next year.
@MasterStrib Is 2014 Patterson equivalent to 2014 Matt Kalil? Both had very promising rookie years than took major steps back. #VikingsST
— Judd Zulgad’s Hoodie (@JZHoodie) November 19, 2014
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson took a step back but not sure I’d call it a major step back. He’s had a disappointing season, both on offense and kickoff returns, given how effective he was in a limited role as a rookie. It comes with the territory of learning how to prepare when opponents are gameplanning to shut you down. Patterson still hasn’t learned how to deal with that, struggling to get open consistently and becoming a viable option for rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Once again, there’s still time for Patterson to turn it around but the window is more open for him than left tackle Matt Kalil, who is going through another bad season. Though he’s only in his third season, it’s a legitimate question to ask whether Kalil will return to his rookie season form. To the viewer’s eye, Kalil’s struggles are more noticeable because we see Bridgewater sacked or pressured from his blindside time and time again.
Face it though, they’re both not playing up to their capabilities and have hurt the Vikings offense significantly this season.
@MasterStrib Why aren’t we running the no huddle O more outside of the 2 minute drill? Saw it early against ATL; not much since. #VikingsST
— TJ Safrit (@TJ_Safrit) November 19, 2014
It can work for a period of time, but it’s not sustainable when the team isn’t structured to play an entire game that way, nor will it structured in such a manner in the future. I’d like to see it in spurts, however, given how good Bridgewater has been and also to throw defenses off.
But the important thing for Bridgewater at this point will be to receive as many snaps as possible in the pace the offense will flow in the future. The more experience he receives in that, the more comfortable Bridgewater will become. I think that’s the most important thing to watch over the final six games. We haven’t seen Bridgewater comfortable for an entire game since his first career start, particularly during the first half.
@MasterStrib what are the negatives to cutting Greg Jennings this off-season? #vikingsST
— Ryan Doherty (@ryandoherty_) November 18, 2014
The Vikings would have $6 million in dead money that would count against the cap, though he’d be owed $11 million if he remains on the team. It wouldn’t be worth it to cut him this offseason.
Greg Jennings, 31, hasn’t been the same receiver he was in Green Bay as he’s dealt with a quarterback carousel of Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and now Bridgewater. There’s still a need for a veteran wide receiver on the roster with a young offense to help Patterson, Jarius Wright, Adam Thielen, Charles Johnson and even Bridgewater. Fans might be upset that the Vikings overpaid for Jennings, and he hasn’t been the No. 1 receiver he was paid to be, but he’s still a veteran with reliable hands when he gets open. I don’t think that’s a guy you should take away from a rookie quarterback.
From early on in 2007 through Week 1 of 2014, with the exception of a handful of games missed because of injury, you never had to ask what the Vikings’ plan was at running back. It started with Adrian Peterson, and that was as close to 100 percent of the answer as any team could hope. Sure, he had backups and the Vikings employed third down/blocking backs, but Peterson was the man. There was no running back by committee, unless one man can be a committee.
The Cleveland Browns have had no such luxury since 2007. Since that season and including this one, six different players have lead the team in rushing: Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison, Peyton Hillis, Trent Richardson, Willis McGahee and Terrance West.
West is the last name on the list and is fewer than 100 yards ahead of Ben Tate, who was signed to perhaps be the team’s feature back this season. Tate, of course, was released this week and picked up by the Vikings, who are almost certainly now going to be without Peterson for the rest of 2014.
Beyond that, the Vikings might be moving into a new era where they treat running backs like the Browns, Patriots, Broncos and so many other teams do these days: cycling through a bunch of them in the course of seasons and employing a committee approach during games. Peterson will be 30 before his NFL-imposed suspension is lifted, and as freakish an athlete as he is, NFL running backs have expiration dates and Peterson’s contract makes it very convenient (and prudent) to cut him or trade him before the 2015 season. Peterson’s off-field problems, in fact, could strangely make it easier in a way for the Vikings to sever ties without having it be purely a football or business decision.
But as encouraging as Jerick McKinnon’s rookie season has been at times, he is not Peterson. No one person is going to replace Peterson, and perhaps no one person should. Because as nice as it was for the Vikings to pencil him in for 20-25 carries a game for as long as they did, and for Peterson to deliver in the way that he did, today’s NFL does not demand a dominant running back. It demands an effective running game and an efficient, playmaking passing game.
There was only one Peterson, a gifted athlete who willed the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012 with a breathtaking season. There will always be a guy like Tate — with six career 100-yard games and two seasons over 750 yards to his credit — to grab in free agency or off the waiver wire to bolster a committee.
One is a convenient luxury (Peterson alone rushed for 4.5 yards per carry last season). One is an effective reality (the Vikings, primarily without Peterson this year, have averaged 4.6 yards per rushing attempt this year).
Now the Vikings are on the other side and might stay there for a long time.