Fully healthy, Jerome Simpson says he's playing for long-term contract
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson woke up without partial feeling in his left leg after his four-catch, 50-yard debut against the Detroit Lions last season.
The mysterious injury, which turned out to be a pinched nerve in his back, didn't fully fade until late March -- nearly six months after it happened, Simpson said.
"I think I probably went and played basketball or something and felt good," Simpson said. "I could cut and do everything. I was going through my training and felt good."
He returned to be the most-targeted Vikings receiver on Sunday, catching seven passes on eight throws for 140 yards.
"I was just happy that [the injury] kind of went away," Simpson said.
A three-game drug suspension kicked off his tumultuous first season with the Vikings, in which Simpson registered just 26 catches for 274 yards and no touchdowns. Many fans scoffed at the organization for brining back a receiver with an injury history and criminal record.
But with the exodus of receiver Percy Harvin, the Vikings chose to bring back Simpson despite his terrible year. They didn't just sign him to another one-year deal, Simpson got a raise of $500,000, upping his ceiling to $2.1 million this year with no money tied into roster bonuses, despite his injury history.
In response, Simpson turned in his best performance in a purple jersey -- catching passes of 44- and 47-yards from quarterback Christian Ponder, his two longest completions of the game.
"It was huge for myself, man, because I just wanted to show the coaches that I have the ability," Simpson said. "I wanted to prove to them that the person they got is that person."
What held Simpson back, in finer detail, was a pinched nerve in his L5, which is the lowest vertebra that controls leg nerves from your spine. That injury caused him to lose partial feeling down his left leg. In turn, Simpson couldn't take off with the necessary push from his leg throughout last season.
Even after his rocky beginning and despite the additions of receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, Simpson feels like he'll remain a focal point in the Vikings' passing attack all season -- not just a quick fix in Week 1.
Meaning his 140-yard performance against the Lions, which is his second-highest receiving total in his six-year career, wasn't a fluke.
"I feel like I can do more," Simpson said. "I just want to stay consistent. I just want to stay consistent. I want to be a consistent target so they can count on me, Christian [Ponder] can count on me. So I can show my natural abilities and show I'm one of the top receivers in this league."
Simpson's career stats of 104 receptions, 1,418 yards and seven touchdowns look more like what a true top receiver puts up in one season, not six.
But Simpson said his upswing is anything but temporary.
"I just want to stay consistent this whole year so I can get a big contract, a long-term contract and stay here," Simpson said.