Coach admits WR Jerome Simpson isn't where he was before his injury
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson declared a few weeks ago that he was recovered from the back issue that resulted in numbness and weakness in his lower leg and caused him to miss his team's loss on Oct. 14 at Washington.
But after seeing Simpson catch only four passes in the past three games, including one for 14 yards in Sunday's loss at Seattle, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier acknowledged Wednesday that Simpson isn't 100 percent.
"He's not where he was prior to that injury. He's not," Frazier said. "You look at the tape and you know that. But he's still able to give us some things. But he's not where he was before the injury, for sure."
According to the team, Simpson first had problems on the morning of the Vikings game on Oct. 7 against Tennessee. Simpson did not catch a pass in that game after having four receptions for 50 yards and drawing two pass interference penalties in his first game as a Viking on Sept. 30 at Detroit.
Frazier said Simpson isn't able to push off on certain cuts.
"It does affect him," Simpson said. "And being able to just sprint and open up the way he was doing before the injury. It's taken a little bit away from his game. He's still able to give us some things, but it has definitely affected him."
Asked about the fact Frazier said he wasn't the same player he was before the injury, Simpson did not disagree.
"I can agree with him," said Simpson, who sat out the first three games of the season after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. "I was holding back just a little bit but I feel like I am getting better and better every week."
Simpson has plenty of motivation to be on the field no matter how he is feeling.
He is playing under a one-year, $2 million contract with the Vikings that he signed in April. That deal includes an $800,000 base value, of which he can only make $658,823.53 because of his suspension. He also has a $950,000 roster bonus that is worth $59,375 for every game in which he is on the 46-man game day roster.
In other words, he lost that $59,375 for missing the Washington game.
As far as what's wrong with the Vikings passing game, Simpson stuck to the company line.
"We just got to keep working on it every week," he said. "When it happens, it is going to happen. It could happen this week. I am pretty sure it could. Whenever it does, we are just going to keep striving to get better and come together as a team."