Still 'Sharp'

A lot of folks presume the addition of rookie Tyrell Johnson with the Vikings' top pick in this year's draft signals the end for Darren Sharper after this season. Not so fast, according to Sharper, who has no plans to walk away anytime soon.

Sharper's still got game

Veteran safety Darren Sharper is in the final year of the $16 million, four-year contract he signed with the Vikings.  While it's no sure thing that the team will re-sign him following the season, the 31-year-old has no plans to call it a career.

Sharper is on record saying he feels fresher now than he has in perhaps the last four years, and feels he's a better player than he was when he initially signed with the Vikings in 2005.

He credits much of his success to the hyperbaric chamber he spends time in virtually every day.

While legend has it that Shaper sleeps in the chamber, he actually tries to spend at least a couple hours a day surrounded by hyper-oxygen.

Here's a video clip from a piece by NBC Sports on the subject.

The presumption, because the Vikings drafted safety Tyrell Johnson with their top draft pick this year, is that Sharper has lost a step and is nearing the end.

His contract with the Vikings might be in its final year, but there is no significant indication on the field that he's done.

"He still has the ability to make those special plays, those plays that can change the game," Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, told  "Those are some of the same things that I saw him do at Green Bay [when he was younger]."

Recent history about Sharper's productivity speaks for itself:

• Selected to the 2007 AP All-Pro Second Team.
• Earned his fourth career Pro Bowl berth in 2007.
• He's gone to the Pro Bowl in two of three seasons with the Vikings.
• Tied for the Vikings lead with four interceptions in 2007.
• Sharper has led or tied for team lead in INTs each season.
• Has 58 career takeaways with 53 INTs and five fumble recoveries.
• Scored 8th career INT return TD at NY Giants (11/25).

As Jim Souhan wrote recently, Sharper is a couple more productive seasons from being in truly elite class in the all-time NFL record books.

The salary cap and economics of the game might play a factor, but if Sharper has yet another good season with the Vikings in 2008, it might be hard for them not to re-sign him once again.

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