Echemandu's Big Chance

If Adimchinobe Echemandu is able to overcome back spasms from earlier in the week and play tonight in Seattle, he could see extended playing time and increase his chances to make the roster. If he can't fight through the back spasms, it would be another injury hampering his career.

Adimchinobe Echemandu has NFL connections.

The Nigerian immigrant who moved to California as a child is the cousin of the Oakland Raiders' 2003 first-round draft choice, safety Nnamdi Asomugha, who was also Echemandu's former teammate at the University of California. Of course, Echemandu has another strong Cal-to-NFL tie, as he shared the backfield with Arizona Cardinals second-round draft pick J.J. Arrington in 2003, Echemandu's senior season.

Ultimately, though, Echemandu has to prove his value to the Vikings on his own after a once-promising career became sidetracked by injuries and the emergence of Arrington.

Echemandu broke his leg during the Insight Bowl in December 2003, his senior season with California, and it was the final injustice in a string of injuries that kept him from being a higher draft pick in 2004 and prohibited him from working out at the NFL Combine two months later. Instead, he had to settle for being a seventh-round pick of the Cleveland Browns.

He didn't recover from his leg injury in time to make a lasting impression with the Browns either.

"Unfortunately, I was on the I.R. for half the season and by the time I came back (former Browns coach) Butch Davis had to resign or was fired. They brought in a new staff and wanted to go a different direction with their own people," Echemandu said.

However, Vikings coaches Mike Tice and Dean Dalton remembered Echemandu from their scouting trips to California. When Minnesota needed depth at running back in the wake of suspension and injuries, they signed Echemandu before training camp this summer.

He has been productive when on the field this preseason. So far, he has gained 66 yards on 22 carries and leads the team with two touchdowns. It shouldn't come as a surprise, either, considering he gained 1,434 yards and 16 TDs at Cal.

He is a thick back at 5-foot-10 and 226 pounds, but he brings more than raw power.

"I've been a pretty versatile back," he said. "I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I can pretty much do everything.

"I don't got no Barry Sanders shake or anything like that, but I've got some elusiveness. I've got some elusiveness downhill that probably people wouldn't realize because I look so big coming out of the backfield."

He also has some speed, thanks to a track background. He said he ran a 10.4 in the 100-meter dash and 21.10 in the 200 meters in high school. Once he hit college and added muscle, though, his times declined to around 10.8 in the 100.

His senior year at Cal he ran for 1,195 yards and 14 TDs, leading to his No. 10 ranking among running backs in the 2004 draft, according to, just two spot lower than current Viking Mewelde Moore.

"Cal's offense is kind of similar to this because you've got to be able to catch, you've got to be able to run, come downhill, have good vision, run powers, outside stretches – everything," he said. "It's not just a downhill offense like the Pittsburgh Steelers. You've got to be able to do everything."

Seeing how high of a draft pick Arrington was in this year's draft (44th overall), it has to play into Echemandu's thoughts about what might have happened if he hadn't been hurt during the Insight Bowl in December 2003.

"I'm human so I'm always going to think about that," he said. "I've torn my ACL, I've broken my leg, so I know I've had a lot of questions about my injuries and durability coming out of college. I know that immensely hurt me coming out of college. I think I would have been a first-day guy."

Arrington and Echemandu have distinctly different running styles and body types, but they may have each helped other's status in the pro scouting circles. Echemandu's injury at the end of his senior campaign hurt him, but he's happy for his former running mate.

"I'm glad someone actually took the chance to look at Cal and Pac 10 running backs. I'm glad someone took (Arrington) that high. I'm proud of what J.J.'s done," Echemandu said.

Meanwhile, Echemandu's string of injuries continued when he was limited this week in Minnesota's practices because of back spasms. He will be evaluated before Friday's game in Seattle.

He said he isn't concentrating on the number of carries he might get Friday or if he'll be the second running back in from the sidelines, and he knows his ability to survive the final roster trimming to 53 players will likely come down to his ability to make an impression on special teams and running back.

He is currently on nearly every special teams unit – punt team, punt return team, kickoff team, kickoff return team.

Ironically, while his own injuries have limited his effectiveness, the misfortunes of others may also give him a chance to play more in Friday's game. With Moore and Michael Bennett expected out with their own injuries, it is possible Echemandu could see limited playing time with the first-team offensive line if his back is well enough.

"I can look forward to it, but I'm not going to put my money in the bank on that one," he said.

Right now, Echemandu just needs to hope that his injuries don't put an end to his time with the Vikings.


Kicker Paul Edinger downplayed his results from last Friday night's game against San Diego, when his hit all three of his field goal attempts and was kicking off to nearly the goal line.

"It's no improvement. That's how I've been kicking (off) all offseason," he said. "I've just been able to continue doing what I've been doing ever since I started this offseason in April in Chicago."

Last week, head coach Mike Tice said he hoped for some bad conditions in tonight's game against Seattle to test his kickers. However, now that Aaron Elling is sidelined with a hip injury, Edinger has likely won the job. But even if there are poor conditions throughout the season, Edinger says it won't affect him.

"I've kick in a lot of different conditions. I just know Seattle has the Field Turf, and the last time I played there it was raining and it was fine," Edinger said. "I played in Chicago for five years. I've had pretty bad (weather) there and haven't had to adjust anything."

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