Excited about new offense, Jerome Felton wants to play more in 2014
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Jerome Felton started a career-high nine games for the Minnesota Vikings last season, yet he was still frustrated.
That's because Felton played in just 35.4 percent of the team's snaps, per ProFootballFocus.com, after serving a three-game suspension to start 2013. As he starts to learn his sixth NFL offense in eight seasons, Felton says he's ready to prove himself all over again in what he views as a contract year.
"Obviously I want to play a lot more, frustrating at times," Felton said. "This is a new season. I don't have anything hanging over my head, I can focus completely on football and I'm excited about that."
The Vikings restructured Felton's contract this offseason, trimming his salary by $500,000, but making $200,000 guaranteed and giving him the ability to opt out after this season.
There's not much Felton can do on the field during the NFL's 'no-contact' offseason, especially as the team takes time to install a new passing game under offensive coordinator Norv Turner. But from what Felton's heard, he's enthusiastic that his role won't shrink in a new offense.
"It's kind of hard in OTAs because they're working so much on the passing game and things like that, so there's not as many reps," Felton said. "But I think it's going to be a good offense for me. Everybody I've talked to has told me that."
Felton spoke with former journeyman fullback Moran Norris, who played under Turner in San Francisco. During that 2006 season, Norris had just seven touches, but paved the way for Frank Gore's career-high 1,695 rushing yards.
Turner's offenses differ from team to team across his 30 years in the NFL. Though Felton fronted Adrian Peterson's 2,097-yard season in 2012, there's a chance Peterson won't see that many carries to make that possible under Turner, which could mean a potentially limiting role for Felton.
In the past, Turner's offenses have found success running out of passing formations. The puzzle is still coming together for the Vikings offense, but Turner said he views the fullback's role as a weapon -- when the defense calls for it.
"There is a place for a fullback in this offense," Turner said. "We want to be diversified enough so if a team has a tough time with a two-back running game, then we want to be able to do it. We want to be able to give teams different looks. Most importantly, we want to be able to attack a team's weaknesses."
Felton admitted he can worry about playing time, but said there's enough at stake to take advantage of whatever opportunity he's given after going through a suspension and contract renegotiation in the past nine months.
"Gives me an incentive to work hard," Felton said. "It's basically a one-year contract because I can opt out after this year. I'm playing for my future and I always say, I play best with my back against the wall. It's going to be a good year for me, I can guarantee that."