The Vikings head into Sunday's game knowing that, in the business of the NFL, there are going to be a number of players in uniform Sunday that will be doing so for the last time. Wide receiver Devin Aromashodu could be one of them.
Aromashodu was signed by the Vikings when the free-agent period opened and has been by far the best big-play receiver for the Vikings. He has caught just 23 passes, but has 415 yards – an average of 18 yards every time he has touched the ball.
He has received more opportunities in the four games since Michael Jenkins was put on injured reserve four games ago. In the first 11 games of the season, Aromashodu was targeted 39 times, catching just nine passes. In the four games since Jenkins was placed on I.R., Aromashodu has been targeted 34 times and has 14 receptions. His role has increased by leaps and bounds as he has been the "next man up," and he hopes the result will be a contract offer from the Vikings when his one-year deal expires on Sunday.
"I don't know what will happen, but I sure hope I will be back here," Aromashodu said. "Right now, our focus is finishing out the season and trying to leave on a high note. The rest will take care of itself, but I would love to come back here. I love all the guys here. They've all taken me into the family and I would like nothing more than to come back."
The game of which he speaks will be against the Chicago Bears, the team he spent three seasons with prior to signing with the Vikings. He was used sparingly in the first matchup but expects things to be a little different this time around. He's looking forward to exchanging trash-talk pleasantries with the same guys he went up against 1,000 times in practice. If the Bears game will be a parting gift for the 2011 season, Aromashodu would like no other opponent to go up against.
"I'll talk a little trash with them and have some fun," Aromashodu said. "I've got a lot of friends there after playing 2½ years with them. We went up against each other in practice so often that we know each other's strengths. It should be fun to get them in our place and try to come away with a win against them."
Aromashodu had some apprehension about coming to a division rival when he signed with the Vikings. He didn't know how he would be received, but many Vikings had far more disdain for Brett Favre before his signing and he was accepted into Vikings family with open arms (even a hostage-type situation that brought him back for a second go-round). Any worries Aromashodu had that he would be accepted were quickly allayed.
"Anywhere you go, you want to make it feel like home," Aromashodu said. "That's what makes you comfortable and people play better when they feel comfortable in their environment. It does feel like home here and I'm definitely enjoying it."
Aromashodu didn't see a lot of playing opportunities early in the season, but was making an impression on the coaching staff during the week. As his playing time increased, he became more of a focus of the Vikings offense. Aromashodu believes that showing up for work every day with a hunger to compete is what wins jobs … and keeps them.
"I think the big thing is consistency," Aromashodu said. "At the end of the day, if you're going to give someone a contract, you want to be able to count on them. If you're consistent, you're accountable. Coaches like players they count on and know that they will be consistent in what they do, whether it's in practice or in games. That's what I've tried to do here. I think I've done a pretty good job, but, in this business, it's all about what the coaches think and I hope they've seen the effort I've put out."
Aromashodu may be one of the Vikings playing his last game with the team on Sunday. If he hits the open market and another team has seen something it likes on film, he could be gone when free agency starts in mid-March. But, if he has his way, he will be back in purple getting ready for the 2012 season.
"You can never say for sure, but we have one more game to make an impression," Aromashodu said. "I want to come back here because I think I can contribute and be a playmaker in this offense. Our focus is still on this last game, but I hope it happens and I stay a Viking for a long time."
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.
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