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Updated: September 9th, 2013 7:48am
Jerome Simpson turns in big performance as one of few bright spots

Jerome Simpson turns in big performance as one of few bright spots

by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- If you watched Sunday's game as a Vikings fan, most of the afternoon was a dark cloud. You were frustrated, upset, and we heard more than a few 'season's over' sentiments.

But it wasn't all bad.

True, besides the Lions frequent self-defeating habits and Adrian Peterson's early touchdown burst, rays of hope were more like wisps of smoke.

Enter Jerome Simpson.

Seven catches for 140 yards, including a remarkable sprawling over-the-shoulder grab. There's your ray of light, Vikings fans. Simpson had a huge performance on an otherwise nondescript afternoon for the receiving corps.

Simpson used to be a punchline, but with that performance he may have morphed into the team's most credible deep threat in an afternoon of work.

His narrative with the Vikings is winding: From signing with the Vikings at 26; to serving a three-game suspension for his pot-related arrest. (He pled guilty on March 1, 2012, to a felony drug charge, after he was arrested in September 2011 for having about two pounds of marijuana shipped to his home.) Then injury hit. A back injury led to leg weakness, which in part explained a brutal first season: 26 catches for 274 yards and zero touchdowns. All for the sticker price of around $2 million.

But Minnesota brought the former second-round pick back on another one-year deal, and on Sunday he turned in his best performance of his Vikings career. He was targeted a team-high eight times, roughly one year after his previous best game in purple, when Simpson caught four passes for 50 yards last September against the Lions. His impact Sunday extended beyond the catches, as he drew pass interference calls on several drives to tack on yards.

Sure, his NFL novel is likely not yet completed. But Sunday's chapter was a positive one after a string of disappointing plot turns.

One of the "ifs" for the Vikings this preseason was unearthing a legitimate outside wide receiver.

IF they could just find a go-to wide receiver to spread wide to complement Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson...

Simpson took a step toward becoming that guy Sunday. And that's a nice ray of hope for an offense that may be too plain and overly reliant on its superstar, Peterson.

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
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