Wiggins Working on Building Blocks

Tight end Jermaine Wiggins has led the Vikings in catches in each of the last two years, but with a new coaching staff comes a new challenge – learning to become a more well-rounded player by improving his blocking. See what he and the offensive coordinator had to say about the topic.

Jermaine Wiggins didn't spend the offseason standing in front of a mirror practicing a 12-step program while reciting Stuart Smalley's daily affirmations. It just sounds like he has.

Mention Wiggins to any football fan, player or opposing coach and the vision that comes to mind is a thick, stocky, sure-handed tight end that will hurdle a would-be tackler if it means he can move the first-down chains. The vision of a down-and-dirty blocker that makes his living in the trenches, on the other hand, rarely comes to mind.

But don't tell Wiggins that.

"You know what? Look at the film. I may not be the most dominant blocker – I'm no Orlando Pace – but it doesn't matter how it gets done as long as my guy doesn't make the tackle. I know how to block," Wiggins said.

And doggone it, people like him.

Since joining the Vikings two years ago, Wiggins has become a stereotypical pass-catching tight end. In 2004, he led the Vikings with 71 catches for 705 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, he had 69 receptions for 568 yards and one touchdown. With a blue-collar blocker opposite him in Jim Kleinsasser, it appeared the Vikings had the perfect blend of strength and finesse.

Then came new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's words earlier this week in training camp: "Jermaine has done a great job over the last couple of years here with catching the ball and having a large number of catches, but again, that's something that's evolving," Bevell said.

Bevell's description of an evolving Wiggins leads many to believe blocking might become a more standard requirement. If so, Wiggins welcomes it with open arms (figuratively) and forceful arms (literally).

"I definitely welcome that challenge," Wiggins said. "You don't want to be one-dimensional in this league. You want to be well-rounded and to be able to do a little bit of everything so now teams to focus on that instead of focusing in on one thing."

It is only the first week of training camp, but already Wiggins has been working on polishing up his blocking skills. With a new West Coast offense being implemented on a daily basis, all indications point to Wiggins doing more than running short pass routes and serving as a check-down option for the quarterback.

"We have Jim Kleinsasser and Wiggins – there will be opportunities to get them both on the field at the same time," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "Jim's kind of been pigeon-holed as our blocker and Wiggins has been pigeon-holed as our pass receiver. I think we're going to make them both more well-rounded players.

"We'll let Jim go out and catch a pass every now and then. We'll have Wiggins standing out there blocking on the end. And that will keep us more balanced offensively."

Evolving as a tight end doesn't seem to bother Wiggins.

"I know I can block if there's trouble," Wiggins said. "I may not be the greatest blocker in this league, but in this league, the running backs are so good now that all you have to do is get in front of a guy.


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