Simpson charged with DWI, ‘probably’ will play Sunday

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

misdemeanor.

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

Kentucky home.

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

forward.”

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

have.”

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.”

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