Vikings backups set to return to background
Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart will likely be back on the
field soon for Minnesota, and that means Matt Asiata will be pushed
to the background again.
He’ll take his important-but-basically-invisible spot on special
teams and otherwise stand on the sideline while the offense is
working, a third-string tailback simply waiting for a chance to
carry the ball that may or may not come again.
Last Sunday, the opportunities were there. Thirty of them.
Asiata took three in for touchdowns.
He held on tight each time, avoiding any fumbles and helping the
Vikings burn through valuable time on the clock on their way to a
48-30 victory over division-leading Philadelphia.
Asiata totaled only 51 yards for a paltry 1.7-yards-per-attempt
average, but his already-sizable fan club in the Vikings locker
room expanded during that bittersweet afternoon for the
”I look at it as a blessing, just getting the opportunity to
show the coaches what I can do and help this offense out,” Asiata
Asiata’s father, Pita, was killed in October when the tour bus
he was driving collided with a utility truck near the Nevada-Utah
”My dream was to make it in the NFL, and I wish my dad was here
to witness it,” Asiata said softly after the win over the
He was undrafted out of Utah in 2011 and cut in training camp by
the Vikings. He worked in an industrial supply warehouse that
season instead, staying in shape for his next chance, and the
Vikings gave him another one in 2012.
He made the team as the backup to fullback Jerome Felton and
carved out a niche on special teams, and 15 months later there he
was making a key block on Cordarrelle Patterson’s 79-yard go-ahead
touchdown reception in the final minute at Baltimore.
Peterson’s sprained foot that day moved Asiata up on the depth
chart, and Gerhart’s hamstring injury near the end of that game put
Asiata on top the following week.
”We were all so fired up for him,” quarterback Matt Cassel
said. ”There’s a lot of talented people that sometimes don’t get
that opportunity, and I was just happy for him that he did get an
opportunity to play.”
Those opportunities can be fleeting, and Asiata wasn’t the only
one last Sunday whose extensive playing time could wind up being
the most of their careers. Tight end Chase Ford filled in with Kyle
Rudolph and John Carlson out and caught both passes thrown his way
for 55 yards.
”Coach Frazier always talks about the next man up. When you get
your opportunities to make a play, you have to make it,” Ford
Then there’s cornerback Shaun Prater, cut by the Eagles two
months ago. He was in the starting lineup against Philadelphia with
Chris Cook, Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson all injured. Cook is on
track to return this Sunday at Cincinnati, leaving one less open
spot in the lineup.
Prater intercepted a pass at the 5-yard line with the Vikings
leading 24-9 in the third quarter last Sunday. He switched
receivers he was covering during the play, which allowed him to
surprise quarterback Nick Foles by leaping in front of DeSean
Jackson to snag the ball.
”Usually that’s a guy who has been playing a while and has been
in that situation a number of times that makes that play, but his
awareness and his acute alertness to what needed to happen was
impressive to see,” coach Leslie Frazier said. ”He made some
other plays, too, that just shows you that he’s a very aware guy
and a very smart football player.”
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org
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