Evans Aiming for Big Offseason

Last offseason didn't go well for defensive tackle Fred Evans, who probably wouldn't be a Minnesota Viking if he didn't already run into two separate issues with the law during 2007. Less than one year later, he seems to relish his second opportunity and says he's ready to make the most of it.

Fred Evans has some good goals set for his 2008 offseason, but it is what the Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle is planning to avoid – trouble with the law – that is most important.

Evans signed a two-year contract with the Vikings in early August, about six weeks after he was arrested in Miami Beach, Fla., and subsequently released by the Miami Dolphins. Evans says he learned a lot from his arrest.

He was arrested in June in Miami Beach on June 23, where officers had to taser him to subdue him after he refused to leave a taxi on South Beach. He later pleaded no contest to resisting arrest and battery on a police officer, avoiding jail time despite being on probation in Texas for a prior citation for possession of marijuana.

Six weeks after his Miami arrest, the Vikings were willing to give him another chance. With vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman and director of player personnel George Paton each having ties to the Miami Dolphins organization, they felt strongly enough about Evans' character that they would grant him a second opportunity.

"I'm pretty sure Coach (Brad) Childress and Rick Spielman and George Paton and those guys wouldn't have even brought me in if they thought I would only be trouble-free during the season. I'm not here to say that what happened didn't happen last offseason, but at the same time it's not an instance that going to keep occurring," Evans said as players prepared to leave Winter Park following the 2007 season.

"I just basically learned that you have to be careful of yourself no matter what goes on. At the same time, even if you're in situations where it might not always be your fault, it's still your fault because you put yourself in those situations. If you're careful of what you do and your surroundings and the people around you, you should be OK. I learned a big lesson."

Even after coming to the Vikings late in training camp and serving a two-game suspension in early December for violating the league's new personal conduct policy with his offseason incidents, Evans still played in 11 games in a reserve role for the Vikings.

He finished the season with five tackles, a sack and two quarterback hurries in limited action while backing up Pro Bowl defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams.

"I showed what I could do sometimes, but this is going to be a big offseason for me because I need to better myself. I didn't really show what I could do all the time. In some instances, I need to get better myself so next year can be a way better year for me," Evans said.

"I just want to be an overall good D-tackle. I feel like I can play both the run and the pass and that's why I just really want to dedicate this offseason to better myself so I can put myself in a position to do both."

After a two-year junior college career, Evans joined the Texas State-San Marcos Bobcats and made an immediate impact after switching from the offensive line to the defensive line. In two seasons, he recorded 95 tackles, 35 ½ of those going for a loss, and 11 ½ quarterback sacks. After his junior season, he was named the Southland Conference's Newcomer of the Year, and became the conference's defensive player of the year as a senior. He was also named to the American Football Coaches Association's All-America team.

All of that earned the 6-foot-4, 305-pounder a seventh-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. He spent the opening 15 games of his professional career on the sidelines, but he registered two solo tackles in his only game action in the season finale against the eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

Now he's working his way through a transition to the Vikings and hoping for a big offseason of development.

"It was just a different style of play than in Miami, but at the same time it was just me growing as a player and learning stuff. It's a transition, but I need to make it an easier transition for myself," he said.

Despite his release from the Dolphins and Miami only winning one game in 2007, he said he's simply grateful for another chance to prove he can stay out of trouble, and he genuinely seems to relish the opportunity to play in the NFL.

"I just view it as a blessing to bounce back from such trouble like that. A lot of times players go through stuff like that and they're not able to bounce back and it's time to find another job," he said. "Regardless if I was in Miami, here or any other team, it's a blessing to have another opportunity because it's my career."

While he plans to complete his degree in kinesiology by taking online classes this offseason, he doesn't even want to entertain the thought of working in a profession other than being a football player right now. Instead, he's all about putting the past behind him, "focus on this offseason and hit the blocks running next year," he said.

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