A bright spot for the Vikings has been the flashes of brilliance displayed by rookie Patrick Chukwurah this season.
Drafted in the fifth round (157th overall) this spring as a strongside linebacker by the Vikings, Chukwurah has been a mild surprise this season in the contributions he's been able to make as just a rookie.
The Nigerian-born Chukwurah (6-foot-1, 239 pounds and 4.65 in the 40-yard dash) is very explosive off the ball and can really bring it off the edge as a pass rusher. The key, as he develops, will be finding the right role for him in the Vikings defense.
At this point, it looks like his best long-range potential might be as a pass-rush specialist at defensive end, although he can still run and move in the open field.
"I think he's an end," Vikings coach Dennis Green said recently. "I see Chuk as a guy that has to learn to play end at 260, 270 pounds. He's about 255 now, but he's a very explosive player. He missed some games because of injury, but I think now that he is getting into a groove we expect him to really finish strong as a nickel rusher. There's a role. You can be a nickel rusher.
"That's enough for a guy to go out and do real well at it because of the amount of plays he gets. He'll get a lot of plays playing that position, because teams use a lot of three wide receivers, and we think he'll be effective. He's a very explosive football player."
"If the only thing a guy can do in the NFL is rush the passer, that's enough," a former scout with the Vikings once told VU. "There's definitely a spot for pass rushers here."
Chukwurah doesn't seem to care where; he just wants to play. "I'm just playing where I am needed," he said. "I did a little bit of that in college. Actually, you can say I did a lot of that pass-rushing wise. I was more of a two-point standup, 3-4 defensive rush backer. Basically it's not a matter if I am comfortable. I've got to do what I've got to do. If they want me playing there, that's where I'm going to play."
The other noticable asset he's brought is his intensity for the game.
"I'm a hungry player," Chukwurah said. "I stay hungry. I love the game whether we are doing good or whether we are doing bad. You have that love for the game regardless. So I'm just going to go out there, keep on trying to play hard like I've been doing."
When asked about whether he was more comfortable at linebacker or defensive end, or if hitting the quarterback feels the same from either position, he said, "Oh yeah. Same feeling. Great feeling, same feeling. It's all ball."
Chukwurah Explosive Everywhere
Viking Update Top Stories
Just Win (Four), BabyThe Minnesota Vikings need some help to make the playoffs. They didn't get much Sunday as Detroit and Tampa Bay improved their own postseason stock.
Viking Update5:52 AM
Sunday slant: Don’t blame BradfordSam Bradford has been getting criticism from some fans and observers, but a look at numerous analytics, and an overall view of the game, shows just how good he has been without…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 1:57 PM
NFC North a M*A*S*H* unitThe Minnesota Vikings have been hit harder by injuries than any playoff contender this year, but Green Bay and Chicago aren't far behind.
Viking UpdateSaturday at 9:26 PM
Do-or-die time for VikingsIt has taken a lot of losing to acknowledge, but Minnesota Vikings players are finally admitting their margin for error is gone.
Viking UpdateSaturday at 9:06 AM
Fan forum: Evaluating the front officeAs injuries pile up and the Minnesota Vikings are making their mark, positive and negative, we wondered what fans attending a recent Vikings game thought of the performance of the…
Viking UpdateSaturday at 6:22 AM