Survivor Marcus Sherels seeing his opportunities expand on defense
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Marcus Sherels made three defenders miss with a trio of shifty cuts en route to a 32-yard punt return in Saturday's 30-28 win against the Arizona Cardinals.
Sherels, 26, has had to fight for his job - typically by impressing on returns - during every preseason since he joined the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2010. But entering his fifth season, Sherels has seen his role expand on defense as Mike Zimmer continues to feel out starters for the defensive secondary.
"We played him more with Shaun Prater getting hurt...and we had [Josh] Robinson out," Zimmer said. "I thought [Sherels] did some good things. The play he made at the end of the game was probably his best one, keeping the guy in bounds so they can't get another chance. It was a situation we had gone over in games, so it's good to see those kind of things come to fruition."
Sherels saw reps as the third cornerback in nickel packages when Captain Munnelryn shifted into the inside. Sherels also worked on the outside on the opposite end of cornerback Derek Cox into the fourth quarter. Sherels' pass deflection on Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley with 1:44 left in the game nearly gave the Vikings their first interception on the night.
As Zimmer noted, Sherels also wrapped up Cardinals receiver Brittan Golden to end Arizona's final drive and the game. He led all Vikings defenders with nine tackles as he saw snaps in each quarter of Saturday's game.
He only gave up three yards after the catch on nine balls thrown his way (six caught), per ProFootballFocus.com.
"Zimmer emphasizes tackling," Sherels said. "We've been doing a lot of drill work. Obviously, we haven't been going live a lot."
And though every year Sherels hears the same story about how he might get cut, the NFL survivor plans on being around a lot longer.
"I've been playing football my whole life," Sherels said. "If you can't tackle, you won't be here long."