Emmanuel Arceneaux needed to go through the CFL to get enough attention from NFL scouts, but he was willing to do what it took to get signed by an NFL team. The Vikings are that team.
Aside from the way the name glides so easily off the tongue, most Vikings fans aren't familiar with Emmanuel Arceneaux. But, inside the power structure of the NFL, he's a known commodity.
Eight teams, 25 percent of the NFL, worked out the CFL wide receiver since the Grey Cup ended its season. The Vikings stepped up with a reported three-year, $1.8 million offer, including a $75,000 signing bonus for the big receiver – who stands 6-2 and weighs 215 pounds. It didn't hurt that head coach Leslie Frazier not only personally took in the workout, but kept in contact with him afterward, something the helped make the Vikings stand out from a pretty big crowd.
"It was eight teams in total," Arceneaux said of his fall/winter U.S. tour. "Fortunately, of the eight teams, (the Vikings) obviously saw a fit for a receiver of my stature or with the skills I have. That's probably why they showed interest and brought me in. The thing is to go somewhere with someone (that) wants you or somewhere you can possibly be needed. That's what the Minnesota Vikings
showed me. They provided me with an opportunity and that's an opportunity that I look forward to being able to take advantage of."
A big-bodied receiver at Alcorn State, Arceneaux played in both a pro-style and West Coast offense. He was used as much as a blocker as a receiver. He said that has helped form the receiver he has become, a player who knows he needs to do more than simply catch passes to help the team.
"I'm a receiver that can catch, run and also block," Arceneaux said. "I think blocking has a lot to do with it, too. It's opening it up for other people. I (don't) just catch footballs. I don't mind being an all-around player."
Arceneaux made the most of his CFL experience, heading up the offense for the B.C. Lions, catching 130 passes for 1,972 yards and 12 TDs in two seasons. He said that, while waiting for the NFL to come calling, he wasn't going to bail out on his NFL dream. He said the CFL became his gateway to the pros that the 23-year-old rookie said was worth the wait.
"Going up to Canada was the stepping stone and that opportunity to showcase what I could do," Arceneaux said. "It was motivation for me and still a chance for me to compete at a high level."
Vikings safety Madieu Williams is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which will be announced Feb. 6 prior to the Super Bowl. The other two finalists are Chicago's Israel Idonije and Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha. The award honors players who exemplify excellence on the field as well as in volunteering and charity efforts. The award was named to honor the late Payton in 1999. The award has been given since 1970 and the only Viking to win the award was Cris Carter, who was honored 1999. The Vikings hired running backs coach James Saxon to replace Eric Bieniemy on the coaching staff. Saxon, a former player with the Chiefs, Dolphins and Eagles, is an 11-year coaching veteran. He spent the last three years in Miami. Prior to that, he coached running backs in Kansas City, where Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson thrived.
Thanks to the Packers advancing to the Super Bowl, Antoine Winfield will be heading to Hawaii. Winfield is replacing Tramon Williams at the Pro Bowl Sunday in Honolulu. He will join Adrian Peterson as the only Vikings making the trip. Kevin Williams was named to replace Ndamukong Suh of the Lions, but backed out because his wife is near her due date for the birth of their child.
After a career-long drought to being named to the Pro Bowl that many found puzzling, Winfield has been selected each of the last three years – tying a team record for most Pro Bowl appearances by a Vikings cornerback. Carl Lee made the Pro Bowl three times from 1988-90.
The Vikings hired running backs coach James Saxon to replace Eric Bienemy on the coaching staff. Saxon, a former player with the Chiefs, Dolphins and Eagles, is an 11-year coaching veteran. He spent the last three years in Miami. Prior to that, he coached running backs in Kansas City, where Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson thrived.
"Body language" is a term that means a lot to NFL coaches and scouts. Give the wrong impression and you can be branded. Jay Cutler has always had the look of a sulking loser. His coming out of Sunday's NFC Championship Game in the second half sparked a firestorm of controversy. Several players, most notably Maurice Jones-Drew, claimed Cutler had no heart or toughness. On the sideline at the game, he was questioned about his body language, which made it clear he wasn't coming back in the game. Considering what Brett Favre was dealing with in the final minutes of last year's NFC Championship Game, MJD may have a point.
The NFL announced its All-Pro team. No Vikings made the team. Many thought Adrian Peterson would join Arian Foster on the team, but Kansas City's Jamaal Charles got the nod.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.