EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — On the day Jerome Simpson was
formally charged with a DWI, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the
troubled receiver would “probably” play Sunday at Seattle.
Simpson was charged Wednesday with third-degree DWI for
refusal to submit to a chemical test, a gross misdemeanor, and fourth-degree
DWI for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a
Frazier wouldn’t say if Simpson, who leads the team with 491
receiving yards and is second with 33 catches, would start Sunday when
Minnesota (2-7) plays the Seahawks (9-1).
“I don’t know how we’ll handle that part of it,”
Frazier said of the starting assignment. “I do expect him to play. We’ll
make a decision on that part of it as we go forward.”
Frazier said the situation is still under review and the
team is waiting further word from the league about Simpson’s status. Simpson is
part of the NFL’s substance-abuse program after being arrested and spending 15
days in jail in 2011 for a shipment of marijuana that he had mailed to his
Simpson was suspended for three games at the start of last
season and was on a three-year probation in Kentucky for the incident.
“We have some information and we’re talking with the
league about some things,” Frazier said. “We’re getting a little bit
more information that should help us as we go forward. But I need to go back in
and just talk about some things that are going on.”
Asked if the fact Simpson was formally charged changed his
availability, Frazier wasn’t sure and believed his prior conviction will play
the biggest role in how Simpson’s case is handled.
“I know they’re still getting more information,”
Frazier said. “But it may. It may have an effect. What’s probably more of
an effect is what happened prior, that has an impact on what happens going
Frazier said the team is following the NFL’s lead in
punishment for Simpson and confirmed the team is restricted in its ability to
discipline Simpson, in part, because of the collective bargaining agreement.
“It definitely is a factor,” Frazier said.
“There are some things you have to be aware of, pertaining to the CBA and
the union, so that factors in. That’s part of why we’re having these
conversations with the league office, so we can do it the right way.”
Minnesota signed Simpson in 2012 despite the 2011 arrest and
expected suspension, agreeing to a one-year contract. After the suspension,
Simpson dealt with injuries in a disappointing 2012 season, but the Vikings
brought him back this season on another one-year contract, with an increase to
$2.1 million this season.
“It’s very disappointing,” Frazier said. “As
I mentioned the other day, any time something negative happens that creates a
negative light on our organization, on our team, it’s a concerning matter. This
case, it’s very disappointing. But it happens and you have to be able to adjust
and deal with it, and not let it set you back as a team or an organization. But
without question it’s disappointing.”
If Simpson doesn’t start, rookie Cordarrelle Patterson would
likely start in his place. Patterson’s offensive usage has increased in recent
weeks. He played 21 snaps in last Thursday’s win against Washington, making his
first touchdown catch.
“We intended to continue to get him more reps,”
Frazier said. “You saw it in the Washington game and the prior week, we’re
trying to get him more reps. So, that was a part of the plan anyway, and it
definitely will be a part of the plan now with some of the concerns that we
Patterson has been an electrifying playmaker, but his use on
offense had been limited the first half of the season, in part because of how
well Simpson has played. Patterson could add another big-play dimension to the
Vikings’ offense from Simpson.
“Well, run after the catch shows up with
Cordarrelle,” Frazier said. “Jerome’s been having a terrific season
for us, made some tough catches, run very good routes. But the one thing that
sticks out with Cordarrelle and you see it on kickoff returns, his ability with
the ball in his hands. He’s a hard guy to tackle, can make people miss and can
run away from you. Those are playmaking qualities that you look for in a
player, and in this case a receiver. So, that’s the one thing that sticks out.”