Jerome Simpson came to the Vikings with a big ol' asterisk next to his name: he was suspended for the first three games of the 2012 season thanks to an off the field incident. While he won't be available until Week 4, Simpson's athleticism has really stood out in training camp practices thus far. He has already become one of Christian Ponder's favorite targets in drills, causing a lot of "ooh's" and "aahs" from the stands with his impressive catches.
Most Vikings fans already know about Simpson's abilities on the field; after all, he's best known for the ridiculous front flip he did while with the Bengals last year. But the pleasant surprise is that his attitude has stood out almost as much as his ability. Simpson has been noticeably talkative, interactive, and in high spirits throughout the time in Mankato. He took the time to chat with us after Tuesday morning's practice to discuss how things are going with his new team.
When asked how he has such a good rapport with Ponder already, he said that he's "staying in my playbook, asking a lot of questions. Coach [George] Stewart stays on me and makes sure I have whatever I need, also coach Fick [Asst. WR coach Ryan Ficken]. Basically it's just staying focused and getting in that [play]book at night."
As we mentioned yesterday, Simpson had a fun session with Chris Cook and the fans during 11-on-11s. Simpson has been very impressed with the players lining up across the way from him in practice. "The whole defense is playing great. I love how those guys run to the ball."
Simpson explained that he hasn't had too much difficulty learning Bill Musgrave's offense because he's doing a lot of what he did in Cincinnati, but there are some differences. "It's a little different. He's using me to my strengths, which is a positive. He has me going on the inside sometimes, and other times lining up on the outside. We just try to get the best matchups possible and coach Musgrave is doing that."
Missing the first three games of the season will be difficult for Simpson but he's trying to keep a positive attitude about it. "My coach in college always used to say 'Just find the positive out of everything.' I'll be fresh coming in Week 4 for Detroit. I'll just keep working and when I get back I hope we don't miss a step."
Finally, if it looks like Simpson is having fun out there with his new teammates, it's because he is. "I just love this game and I love being around these guys. It's a camaraderie here. Everyone is together just trying to work for one goal, and that's to win a Super Bowl."
Lofty goals to be sure, but it's definitely nice to see the Vikings receiver remaining so upbeat and positive in the face of adversity. If Simpson can hit the ground running in Week 4 and impress like he has so far in Mankato, he'll be a very welcome addition to the team.