Cordarrelle Patterson is expected to have a bigger role in the offense new coordinator Norv Turner is bringing to Minnesota. Jerome Simpson will have a different role, too.
Last year, Simpson finished second in both receptions (48) and receiving yards (726) for the Minnesota Vikings. But this year, Simpson's role is changing and he could be seeing more snaps as the slot receiver.
"I move around more this year. I can play the slot. I'm on the outside. With me playing the slot, it gets me mismatched against the linebackers and safeties and stuff so we can take advantage of that.
"And then I just get utilized in different way. Actually everybody is because you have to learn inside routes and outside routes, so that helps a lot. Just not a defense being able to dictate what we're going to run."
Simpson is one of the fastest players on the team. Last year, he led Vikings receivers with more than 30 catches with a 15.1-yard average per catch and was second among receivers in playing time, on the field for nearly 62 percent of the snaps.
But Simpson's duties aren't likely to be limited to inside work. When asked about him last week, Turner immediately brought up the receiver's speed and how the offensive coordinator has utilized that in his previous stops.
"It's fun to have that big speed guy on the outside, and when we've had it that guy has usually averaged 18-20 yards a catch. We do tend to get more single coverage, particularly with Adrian (Peterson) back there. He's had a very good offseason and hopefully he can be that guy they have to respect, and if they don't hopefully he can make big plays."
The big play has been part of Simpson's two-year tenure with the Vikings. He has been hoping to gain a long-term contract, but so far he has only garnered one-year deals after a league-imposed suspension started his 2012 season with the Vikings. Another one could be looming after he was arrested last November on suspicion of DWI but instead pleaded guilty to careless driving in January.
But the biggest obstacle facing Simpson is the same one facing every offensive player with the Vikings – learning a new offensive scheme.
"It's something that you've got to go home and, as (receivers coach George) Stewart says, you've got to go home and flip those pages. So you definitely have to go home and study," Simpson said. "I just try to go home and study every night before I go to bed and watch my film and get in early and go over the plays and stuff so I can just keep everything on file and getting it down."
Turner's offense features a lot more pre-snap motion than what the Vikings had under former coordinator Bill Musgrave, who was fired after Mike Zimmer was hired as the head coach. Simpson is at least a little familiar with Turner's numbers system, but getting used to playing in the slot will be an adjustment.
"It's just stuff comes a little quicker, but I'm dealing with it pretty good," Simpson said. "My coach, he's liking the stuff I do. He likes me going in and playing the Z, so it's working out good. I like it because I'm on different parts of the field and I get to motion and kind of confuse the defense and they don't know exactly what I'm going to run every time."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Simpson adapting to new responsibilities
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