From the moments following the Vikings game Sunday with the Green Bay Packers, there was a growing buzz that we may have seen the last of Bernard Berrian in the Vikings organization. After being expected to be the starter – Berrian's name was among those originally listed for pregame introductions – the timing of his release couldn't be worse, given that top receiving threat Percy Harvin has been playing with injured ribs and is far from being 100 percent.
His wide receiver teammates reacted to the news. While most deflected the questions (in similar fashion), they did open up somewhat on the decision to sever ties with Berrian. Michael Jenkins, who had already taken over Berrian's role as a go-to receiver in the Vikings offense, said the timing of it came as a surprise to some.
"You never know," Jenkins said. "Coach Frazier dealt with that. It's a sad situation. You hate to see that happen in the middle of a season, but the decision was made."
Given Harvin's injury status coming into the game and the fact he didn't play in the second half, Berrian's deactivation seemed like a portent of things to come. The buzz is that Berrian wasn't showing the commitment to practicing hard or being on time for position meetings. His production was nowhere to be seen – in the five games he played, he caught just seven passes and didn't have a touchdown.
The common buzz word being whispered is that his discontent was becoming a distraction. But, as Greg Camarillo pointed out, if any team is accustomed to distractions, given the landslide of issues that followed the team last year, the Vikings were as a ready as anyone to handle some internal discontent.
"From the minute I got here last year, there's been a relay truck out front waiting to pop the biggest story," Camarillo said. "Luckily, there aren't as many stories as there were last year, but that's football. You've got to get all the news to the fans. It's not our job to worry about, but it's our job to ignore it and just get ready to work."
With the release of Berrian, rookie Stephen Burton was elevated from the practice squad. While he beamed that Sunday will be a dream come true as he is part of the 53-man roster (active, he hopes), he said the circumstances that got him to this point are not as he had envisioned, but the goal of every practice squad player is to get the call to active duty. The first call the Vikings made after officially releasing Berrian was to Burton, letting him know that he was the next man up.
"It wasn't the ideal way to get on the (53-man) roster, but these things happen," Burton said. "Guys get injured. Guys get cut. Guys get traded. Guys get signed. You never know what's going to happen, so you have to prepare every week like you're going to play because you never know when they're going to call your number."
The players dodged questions pertaining to specifics of the "what did they know and when did they know it?" ilk, because most claimed to have been largely unaware of Berrian's tenuous hold on a roster spot. Devin Aromashodu may have summed it best by saying most players weren't looking over their shoulders at Berrian, they were on point to do their own jobs to make sure they keep their spots on the roster.
"I didn't know what was going to happen to be, honest," Aromashodu said. "I really couldn't focus on it because it didn't concern me."
The removal of Berrian from the roster pushes everybody other than Harvin officially up a notch. Jenkins is a starter. Camarillo and Aromashodu split the No. 3 job. Burton is the fifth receiver who may or may not be active on Sunday. Ex-teammates said that, while they enjoyed Berrian as a teammate, the nature of the NFL is to constantly look ahead and forget the past. Time spent looking backward is time wasted. It's a decision they didn't make, but one that affects all of them. It's part of "the life" and those who have been around awhile realize that.
"Professional football has distractions," Camarillo said. "The guys that are able to fight through that are the guys that will stick around. We've had our fair share of distractions, but we've got a pretty solid group in this locker room. I'm pretty sure we can move past all of it."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Teammates hoping to bury the Berrian drama
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