Gurley eagerly makes rivalry transition
SEP 07, 2012 7:48p ET
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Tori Gurley still feels a bit out of place right now in Minnesota, living in a hotel and wearing purple as a member of the Minnesota Vikings instead of the green and gold he had grown accustomed to in Green Bay.
The practice squad receiver had prepared for a future with the Packers. On a team loaded with receivers, Gurley was still expecting to have an NFL career develop in Green Bay. His career took an interesting, and not necessarily unexpected, turn after the Packers made him one of their final cuts last week, though. Not long afterward, his agent received a phone call from Minnesota offering him the chance, again, to join the Vikings.
This time, Gurley said he "jumped on it" when given a chance to continue his career. The adjustments are still taking place a week after his arrival.
"I had a nice place in Green Bay, but now I'm living in a hotel," Gurley said. "Just the little things you take for granted like getting in your car and driving to practice. Now I'm still trying to find a place to stay and all the other little things that help you be a better football player. So, once the end of this week gets over with and I get settled down, I'll feel like more of a Viking."
Feeling like a Viking is a bit different from where he thought he'd be.
After all, Gurley had turned down Minnesota before. Stuck on Green Bay's practice squad as the Packers were on their way to a 15-1 record last year, Gurley had another call from the Vikings, who wanted to sign him to their active roster. He declined the offer and chose to stay with Green Bay.
A player giving up a chance at an active roster spot to stay on a practice squad? Surely Gurley must have been crazy.
Rejecting Minnesota to be a simple practice player earned him notoriety among the rival Packers' faithful. Even now, some of the Vikings understand Gurley's thought process.
"Of course, the Packers had a chance to go to the Super Bowl and he wanted to stay, and I can definitely understand that," Minnesota receivers coach George Stewart said. "He's a young man we had targeted and we were finally able to bring him in."
Gurley's decision came down to just that fact. Even though he might not have been active on game days, he didn't want to pass up the chance at a Super Bowl.
"It was the opportunity to make a playoff run and win a Super Bowl," Gurley said. "We were the heavy favorites. And with me working out with those guys every day and just seeing their work ethic, I knew it was going to be Super Bowl. We all believed it and that's why. Now I'm here. I'm very happy and I can kind of show my teammates the things I learned there and I'm here to become a better player."
Gurley was still on the practice squad when Green Bay was ousted from the playoffs in its first game. He never played in a regular season game for the Packers. He had three catches for 75 yards this preseason, but was cut among the glut of receivers in Green Bay.
Then came the call that, frankly, didn't surprise Gurley. The big receiver is ready to show the Vikings he's every bit the receiver they were looking for last year when they tried to sign him.
"I was excited because I knew it was going to be a fresh start," Gurley said. "I just knew I had to move on and get ready to start my career."
Late last year wasn't the first time Minnesota had been interested in Gurley, who went undrafted out of South Carolina in the 2011 draft. The Vikings had looked at him before he signed with Green Bay.
Gurley's size (6-foot-4, 232 pounds) is one of the traits that drew Minnesota's interest. The Vikings are still looking to develop a big target that can make the tough catches, as well as offer a threat down the field. Stewart believes it's been an aspect missing since Sidney Rice signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
"With a big 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 body like what Tori has, we're looking for that big outside target for our quarterback, so he can just throw that thing up very similar to what Brett Favre did when Sidney was here and give us an outside presence," Stewart said.
"He has size. He is very smart. He does have ability. With those three characteristics working for him, he does have a chance to help us down the road."
Gurley doesn't believe it's going to be too far down the road before he's able to contribute, unlike last season when he was strictly in a development role for the Packers. He said he learned a lot working in Green Bay and is eager to prove he's ready for a spot on Minnesota's active roster.
"Yeah, I mean, they brought me here to give me an opportunity to play," Gurley said. "I don't think it's to be on the practice squad the whole year. It's the opportunity to develop some and get out there and show them what I'm working with."
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