Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson healthy, appreciative of second chance
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MANKATO, Minn. -- First came the 15-day jail sentence from a guilty plea on felony drug charges, then a three-game suspension from the NFL and when he finally got onto a football field, Jerome Simpson woke up after his Sept. 30 debut against Detroit to numbness in his left foot caused by a back injury.
The lack of feeling left him unable to accelerate off his left leg like he was used to and ultimately finished with 26 catches for 274 yards and no touchdowns after signing a one-year, $2 million deal with the Vikings in April 2012.
"From then on it was really a challenge for him to get up to full speed," offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "He looks to be full speed this summer."
Simpson attempted to hurdle safety Jamarca Sanford after catching a pass during Tuesday's team drills -- a move he likely couldn't have made with his recent back injury.
Quarterback Christian Ponder targeted Simpson multiple times in team drills, connecting with the receiver for gains of 20 and 15 yards.
"[Simpson] is doing a better job getting separation," Musgrave said. "We can gauge his speed better."
Simpson's Vikings debut last season, against the Lions, appeared to be the only time he was the explosive split end the team needed, catching four passes for 50 yards and drawing two interference calls. Simpson has shown flashes in training camp, including a 50-yard catch in Saturday's scrimmage, that he can be a consistent No. 2 receiver to Greg Jennings as well as a deep threat.
The Vikings resigned Simpson to another one-year deal in March, reportedly worth $1.35 million with a $250,000 workout bonus.
"I'm very appreciative to get my second chance and this is somewhere I want to be," Simpson said. "I want to earn a spot here and hopefully end my career here."