Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes hasn’t quite picked up where he left off with his breakthrough 2014 season. The biggest reason? Flags.
Rhodes has fared relatively well in coverage, but his physical style has gotten him in plenty of trouble with the officials on the field. He’s tied with teammate and defensive end Everson Griffen for the most accepted penalties per game in the NFL, with seven each for an average of 1.75 per game. In Minnesota’s last game at Denver, Rhodes was flagged for defensive pass interference twice and once for a horse-collar tackle that also drew him a $17,363 fine.
So when the Vikings returned from their bye week for practice on Monday, defensive backs coach Jerry Gray playfully made Rhodes put on a pair of boxing gloves during the portion of the workout reporters were allowed to watch.
"Now you can’t grab!" Gray yelled.
Rhodes took the gag in stride, but there was clearly a purpose to it.
"We want to laugh and joke with him, let me know it’s not a thing that coach is insulting you on or anything like that," teammate Captain Munnerlyn said. "We’re just trying to get you better."