Ramp up the reps with the backup receivers.
The Vikings will be begin preparing for the three-game regular-season absence of Jerome Simpson this week as they get ready for their third preseason game, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave confirmed.
That means more playing time for Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins with Christian Ponder at quarterback instead of Joe Webb.
In limited preseason action so far, Jenkins has two catches for 41 yards, including a 35-yard leaping catch down the right sideline Friday night, something that could help show Vikings coaches that Jenkins still has the ability to make plays downfield after missing the final five games of 2011 with a knee injury.
"It's just going down and making plays. It's more than (proving to the coaches). You want to go on the field and do a good job," Jenkins said.
Jenkins tore the meniscus in his knee last year, an injury that required surgery and caused him to be placed on injured reserve, but he said he was feeling fine by the end of the season. However, he was still getting rehab treatment on the knee this spring.
"I know he was still getting treatment back in the (organized team activities), we'll say back in May or June. I think he's doing more preventative work in the training room now more than true rehab, so he's probably getting real close to being back to where he wants to be, if not already being already there," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said, noting that Jenkins seems more confident.
Jenkins' 35-yard catch may have been proof of that, but in order to increase his odds of sticking with the team, he took a big paycut during training camp. He agreed to cut his salary from $2.5 million in 2012 to $1 million, and from $2.5 million in 2013 to $825,000.
"It is a business, so those things come into play," Jenkins said. "You've just got to roll with it."
Aromashodu signed a one-year, $700,000 contract to return to the Vikings this year. While Jenkins had 38 catches for 466 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games played last year, Aromashodu played in all 16 games and had 26 catches for 368 yards and one touchdown.
This preseason, Jenkins has hauled in two of the four passes thrown his way. Nobody on the Vikings has more targets this preseason than Aromashodu, who has nine but still hasn't converted any of those targets into receptions.
"Devin has just had some bad luck here these first two games. We've tried to send the ball his way and various factors have caused us to come up empty, so we're going to keep going to that well," Musgrave said. "We can count on Devin. He knows what to do and he gives us his best effort every day. The worm will turn in that regard."
Part of the problem has been playing with Joe Webb, who has completed only 11 of 26 passes this preseason, but the numbers from last year with Aromashodu aren't flattering either.
In 2011, he was targeted 84 times, catching only 26 of those for 31 percent, easily the lowest among Vikings receiver with 25 or more targets last year. Musgrave said Ponder has familiarity with Aromashodu from last year, but the two will get their most extensive action of the preseason together on Friday night.
"I know they had a good rapport, as have Christian and Jenkins," Musgrave said. "We've had some good time out on the practice field and also in Mankato, so we're comfortable there."
Two of the Aromashodu misses Friday night came when he caught deep passes but was out of bounds. Musgrave said the responsibility for those misses lie with both the receiver and quarterback.
"It's a two-way street. He wants to leave us room to throw it over his outside shoulder and we want to keep the ball in-bounds as quarterbacks," Musgrave said. "I'd say both factors need to improve in that area to result in a completion."
Head coach Leslie Frazier agreed.
"What happened on Friday night isn't all his issue. He's doing everything we ask him to do," Frazier said. "We just have to keep the ball in play and give him a chance to make a play on the ball, but he's trying to get that part of his game where we want it and it's encouraging to see because we think he has the ability to make those hard and contested catches, we just have to give him an opportunity to do so other than out of bounds."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Aromashodu, Jenkins to see increased action
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