Jerome Simpson says bad day was 'tough to watch,' technique is problem
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Jerome Simpson admits he's not himself these days.
But the Minnesota Vikings' starting split end continues to deny his issues have anything to do with the back injury that derailed his season about the same time it began.
"I am obviously down, because I am used to making those plays," Simpson said on Wednesday. "But I just gotta be resilient and bounce back. Refocus."
Simpson caught one pass for 1 yard in Sunday's 28-10 loss at Chicago and dropped three others, including a key slant on third-and-4 after the Vikings had forced an early turnover.
He was borderline despondent after the game, saying he couldn't ever remember dropping so many balls in a game, and a film session didn't seem to have lightened his mood.
"It is tough to watch it, but it serves as motivation to come back even harder," Simpson said. "Work and be a better player."
Asked specifically what went wrong on the drops, Simpson said, "I let the ball get too close to my body. I am always used to being a hands catcher. So, the ball is just getting to close and I need to just go and reach with my hands."
Simpson said he's working with the JUGS machine after practice, making sure his eyes are focused and he's seeing the ball all the way into his hands. However, drops are only part of the trouble for Simpson, who has just 12 catches for 138 yards (11.5 yards) in seven games.
His speed was on display as he hauled in four catches for 50 yards and drew two pass interference calls in a win at Detroit on Sept. 30 -- his season debut after sitting out the first three games for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Despite Simpson's claims to the contrary, though, coach Leslie Frazier acknowledged three weeks ago the 26-year-old receiver hasn't been the same since Oct. 7, when he woke up with numbness in one of his feet that tests revealed was caused by a problem in his back.
Frazier said on Wednesday he has spoken "a little bit" with Simpson since Sunday's debacle and "(j)ust encouraged him. We've got to move on. We know he's more than capable of making plays for us, and we need him to do that this week.
"We don't need nobody sulking or looking back or being down. We need everybody energized and ready to have their best game of the season."
Simpson insisted again on Wednesday he's 100% healthy and said he still has "got a lot of football left. Just got to keep proving myself."
That was the idea when Simpson signed a one-year, $2 million contract in April. So far, though, the only thing Simpson really has proven is the inconsistency that has plagued him throughout his career remains a problem.
"If you hold onto mistakes, then that is when you start to fall," Simpson said. "I always find a way to bounce back."
Dana Wessel contributed.