Todman brings loads of athleticism to RB race

Jordan Todman has been showing off his athleticism in Vikings practices the last two weeks. With only two running back roster spots locked up with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, Todman might just find himself a role on the Vikings so he can quit second-guessing his decision 18 months ago.

Jordan Todman can run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, but the speedster surprising admits that "game speed and 40 speed is totally different."

Likewise, the Minnesota Vikings running back that is vying for a third-string, third-down role is finding out that NFL life is a different animal from college football. After a highly successful college career at Connecticut, Todman has become one of the many NFL players at this time of year scratching to find a place on a roster and a continued paycheck.

He left UConn after his junior season and freely admits he sometimes questions his decision to enter the NFL draft early.

"It's tough being young. I'm only 22 and I left my true junior year. I think about it, my decision. College and the NFL is two totally different levels. I was successful in college and had a good career. Now I'm in the NFL and I've got to translate it. My goal is to be just as successful, if not better. I guess it takes time," Todman said.

"I can second-guess it both ways and say I made the right decision or I can say I didn't. Football is a game, it's very physical. You never know what can happen. You see people come back one year and get a season-ending injury and get setbacks. I'm happy with my decision and I'm going to make the best of it."

He certainly did that with the Huskies. He was the 2010 Big East Offensive Player of the Year, ranked second in the country with 1,695 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, and had 10 100-yard rushing games in his junior season. Despite cutting his UConn career short, he finished third in school history in rushing yards with 3,179 and touchdowns with 31.

Despite all that success, Todman was only a sixth-round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers, likely because of his size. He is just 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds, but he brings loads of athleticism. At the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, he was one of the top performers among running backs in the 40-yard dash (4.4), vertical jump (38 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-6).

When Adrian Peterson was lost for the final game of 2011 with a torn-up knee, the Vikings made the call to claim Todman off the Chargers' practice squad.

"It was a great opportunity, I felt like, being able to come here and show what I can do. Adrian Peterson is really good and is unreplaceable in my eyes. It was naturally just coming here for an opportunity to play and for a spot on the 53-man roster," Todman said after another solid practice earlier this week.

Last December he was a quick stopgap fill-in at the end of a miserable season for the Vikings. Now Todman is the quick scatback in the backfield looking to carve out a long-term role. He knows Peterson will be "the man" once he returns from injury, and Toby Gerhart is the natural replacement until that happens. But, beyond those two, the Vikings are in search of their third running back and Todman could be the favorite among a group that also includes Lex Hilliard and rookie Derrick Coleman.

Todman's task now is learning the offense.

"I consider the playbook here and for the San Diego Chargers pretty similar. Naturally, when you love football or a sport and you're into it, you tend to pick it up fast," he said. "So the playbook and that stuff, football is like another nature. It's my job so I took it serious. I was in the playbook and I come out here every day and I work my butt off to make sure I know what I'm doing, studying the playbook. If you don't know what you're doing, you can't help out on the field."

Todman isn't going to push a lot of piles or run over defenders like Peterson and Gerhart, but he is a self-described "scatback and a good guy in the open field." The Vikings are curious to see if he can be a back that takes some first- and second-down carries if Peterson isn't available early in the season and Gerhart needs a rest.

"The more that anybody can do, the better chance they have to make the team. If he can be sharp with protections and be good catching the ball, he can be in on third downs," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "If he can run the ball where we want it run, we can put him in on first and second down and spell Toby a little bit."

It remains to be seen if that becomes a reality, but the athleticism is there. It was there in college, it was there at the NFL Scouting Combine and it's been showing up in the organized team activities.

"I guess when you work hard and when things are put on film … when I get that opportunity, if I take full advantage of it, it will show if I'm able to be more than that or if I'm not," he said. "The more opportunities I get, the more carries and more playing time, I will be able to translate it, like, whoa, I can be more than just a third-down back."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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I guess it takes time,\" Todman said. \"I can second-guess it both ways and say I made the right decision or I can say I didn't. Football is a game, it's very physical. You never know what can happen. You see people come back one year and get a season-ending injury and get setbacks. I'm happy with my decision and I'm going to make the best of it.\" He certainly did that with the Huskies. He was the 2010 Big East Offensive Player of the Year, ranked second in the country with 1,695 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, and had 10 100-yard rushing games in his junior season. Despite cutting his UConn career short, he finished third in school history in rushing yards with 3,179 and touchdowns with 31. Despite all that success, Todman was only a sixth-round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers, likely because of his size. He is just 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds, but he brings loads of athleticism. At the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, he was one of the top performers among running backs in the 40-yard dash (4.4), vertical jump (38 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-6). When Adrian Peterson was lost for the final game of 2011 with a torn-up knee, the Vikings made the call to claim Todman off the Chargers' practice squad. \"It was a great opportunity, I felt like, being able to come here and show what I can do. Adrian Peterson is really good and is unreplaceable in my eyes. It was naturally just coming here for an opportunity to play and for a spot on the 53-man roster,\" Todman said after another solid practice earlier this week. Last December he was a quick stopgap fill-in at the end of a miserable season for the Vikings. Now Todman is the quick scatback in the backfield looking to carve out a long-term role. He knows Peterson will be \"the man\" once he returns from injury, and Toby Gerhart is the natural replacement until that happens. 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