Jerome Simpson doesn't hide frustration about being held out
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Jerome Simpson didn't have to say many words Monday to make one point very clear.
The wide receiver wasn't happy at all that Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier decided to deactivate him for Sunday's loss at Washington. Simpson was held out after experiencing weakness and numbness in his lower leg because of a back issue.
A 3-minute, 28-second interview in front of his locker at Winter Park opened this way:
Question: How are you feeling?
Question: Will you be ready to play Sunday against the Cardinals?
Question: Is everything full speed ahead?
Question: How tough was it to sit out on Sunday?
The smile that often crosses Simpson's face was nowhere to be found. It was replaced by his frustration over the Vikings' decision to hold him out and also an injury that is believed to be tied to a problem with a disc in Simpson's back.
"I can do everything," Simpson said. "I feel good. I feel like Jerome Simpson."
This is turning into a trying season for Simpson, who was suspended for the first three games of the regular season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
In his first game back, Simpson caught four passes for 50 yards in the Vikings' 20-13 victory on Sept. 30 at Detroit. But the following Sunday, Simpson woke up with the numbness in his leg and he failed to catch a pass in the Vikings' 30-7 victory over Tennessee.
The Vikings have expressed confidence that Simpson can avoid having surgery that would sideline him for a prolonged period, but the decision was made that it would be best to hold him out for at least one game.
Frazier said he talked to Simpson on Saturday about the issue after the veteran was limited in practice last week.
"He kind of had an idea of where I was headed, but in his heart he wants to play," Frazier said. "He's a competitor, which is what you appreciate about him. He wanted to be out there. But we'll see how it goes this week. ... He wants to play. He wants to help our team win and we'll evaluate it this week."
Simpson said that Frazier told him Saturday it would be a "game-time decision" on whether he would be on the field, adding Frazier didn't really say what concerned him most when the decision was made to make Simpson inactive.
"Me being a competitor, I always want to play the game, play in the game, so I just have to go with his decision and what he thinks is best for the team," Simpson said.
Simpson said his biggest issue now is tightness in his leg and that his back isn't an issue when it comes to pain. He's been getting treatment that includes ice, electric stimulation as well as spending time in the hot tub.
"I felt like it loosened up a lot," last week in practice, Simpson said. "I felt like I was ready, but coach is just going to do what's best for the team."
Asked how much he had lobbied to play on Sunday, Simpson said: "A lot. Just because I just love to play this game. It's hard to keep me off this field and it did. Just like I said, (it's) coach just making the best decision for the team."
Simpson and Frazier did speak on Monday and Simpson told his coach he will be ready for Sunday's game. "(He) told me to just watch the (practice) tape and that will prove it," Frazier said. "So, I'm looking forward to how he progresses as the week goes on."
Simpson, asked a second time about playing Sunday, said, "We will see going through the week, but if we were to play today I believe I could go out there and play."
Simpson was signed to a one-year, $2 million contract in April by the Vikings after four years in Cincinnati.
The hope was that when Simpson returned from his suspension, he could prove himself to be reliable enough to warrant a long-term deal and the Vikings would have found a guy who could serve as a vertical threat.
But on Sunday, with Simpson sitting, the Redskins had no problem sending multiple defenders into the box and daring the Vikings to throw the ball deep. That was tough for Simpson to watch.
"I feel like with my speed, I just can (serve as that deep threat and help) this team get that extra man out of the box," he said. "That's what I'm just going to try to continue to do to my best ability."
Asked if Simpson can be a long-term solution on Monday, Frazier was quite candid.
"We haven't seen much of him," Frazier said. "He played the one game after suspension, was banged up a week ago and we didn't dress him yesterday. So, we've had limited exposure to him. We've got some time, and hopefully he's ready to go this week.
"I can give you a better answer as we get further into the year and we've had more exposure with him. We've just had limited opportunities to this point."
Missing any time is certainly costly for Simpson. His contract includes an $800,000 base value, of which he can only make $658,823.53 because he was suspended the first three games. 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.