Jerome Felton said his three-game suspension stemming from his drunken driving arrest in 2012 was "one of the more frustrating periods of my life."
After signing a three-year, $7.5 million contract following his first Pro Bowl season with the Vikings, Felton was relegated to watching – and venting – as the Vikings lost their first three games of the season.
"This last one I didn't watch by myself, but I probably should've been because I was yelling and carrying on the whole time," Felton said. "I was tired after that game. I felt like I played the game. So I didn't watch this last one by myself.
"It's a rough feeling. It's not a good feeling at all. It makes you appreciate the position you're in, appreciate your teammates, appreciate the organization for sticking behind me and encouraging me these last three weeks. At first I was pretty down about the whole situation, but they really helped me stay up. So now I'll do my part on the field to help pick them up, too."
The Vikings could use it.
NFL MVP Adrian Peterson has been held under 100 yards in two of three games while the Vikings used undrafted rookie Zach Line at fullback. Line was placed on injured reserve Monday to make room for Felton.
The Vikings had also used TE Rhett Ellison in the backfield, but Ellison wasn't active on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns because of a knee injury.
"You know, it was tough, just because you feel like you can help the team win. But it was tough just watching," Felton said. "Obviously I tried to watch every game. I just wanted to be out there. So now I'm back and hopefully we can get this thing on a roll."
Felton said his absence from the field helped "put that fire in me," but he knows the winless Vikings don't have the luxury of patiently waiting for him to round into game shape or take a few weeks to work on his timing with Peterson.
"We don't have time for it to take a few weeks. I've got to hit the ground running. That's on me, and that's what I'll do, and I'll practice hard this week and try to pick up where I left off. And I think once that happens, everything else will fall into place," Felton said.
During his suspension, Felton wasn't allowed to practice with the team or attend games. He could, however, have the assistance of trainers to stay in shape. He said he should be in good shape and plans to assume a full workload like he did last year.
Line played in 68 of the 198 offensive snaps, or 34 percent, in his three games on the active roster. Last year, Felton played in 38 percent of the team's offensive snaps.
Peterson averaged 6.0 yards per carry last year on his way to 2,097 yards rushing, the second-highest total in NFL history. So far this year, Peterson is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and 94 yards a game. The Vikings have started 0-3.
"Obviously we're not where we want to be, but you look at those games and it could've been a whole different ballgame so there's some things that we've got to correct and we'll work hard this week to do that," Felton said.
"This has definitely been one of the more frustrating periods of my life, just watching these last three weeks, so you know obviously it's not just me coming back that's going to make the running game do what it needs to do, but I definitely think I can help and contribute. It'll be a team effort and we'll get back on track."
Head coach Leslie Frazier anticipates Felton's return to the lineup will help. Felton is just relieved to have his suspension behind him.
"I'm just glad it's over," he said, "and I'm just ready to move on with the rest of my career."
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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