Nance Just Looking for a Chance

Wide receiver Martin Nance hasn't had a lot of opportunities to show his abilities in a regular-season game, but he made the most of his preseason action on Saturday. See what Nance had to say about his performance and where he has gotten better.

Martin Nance is in a roster battle he might not have a lot of control over.

Nance has been trying to stick on the Vikings' 53-man roster since he first signed with the team in 2006, but the final game of that first season in the league was the only game in which he received playing time.

Two years later, he's in much the same situation as he was at that time, coming off a good performance but still unsure of his future in the league. In his first and final opportunity for game experience in 2006, Nance caught four passes for 33 yards.

After his last preseason performance – three catches for 74 yards, including a touchdown – against Baltimore, Nance is back to feeling like he has a chance.

"Definitely exciting. Each guy in our group is always looking for big-play opportunities," he said. "When those come, we try to make the best of them, so I was glad to do that and I'm looking forward to more."

That was likely his feeling coming off of his rookie season in 2006, but, despite head coach Brad Childress talking about Nance's possibilities during the offseason, 2007 saw Nance on the practice squad for the entire season.

"Obviously we all feel confident in our abilities. (The practice squad) is a test of your patience, but at the same time when your opportunity comes and they call your number you have to step up and answer," he said.

He did that on Saturday, making a leaping catch in the back of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown after the Baltimore Ravens blew their coverage of him.

"The ball felt like it was in the air for a long time. As any receiver will tell you, that's really when you have to focus in, cancel out any distractions and make the play," he said. "As the play continued, I just felt like I was getting closer and closer (to the end line), so at the last second, I knew I had to get in bounds and get a knee down or a couple feet, so that's what I tried to do."

Nance made that catch from Tarvaris Jackson to cap the Vikings' opening drive for a 7-0 lead. He was getting more opportunities with the first-team offense because Bernard Berrian was held out of action with a sore toe.

On the Vikings' third drive, the Ravens came with a blitz that left them in single coverage on the outside. Quarterback Gus Frerotte and Nance were prepared to take full advantage of the opportunity.

"We had been talking about that all week. We knew that they like to bring the blitz and knowing that Gus is a veteran guy who can see all that, you expect the ball to go up and get an opportunity," Nance said. "We got a big-time blitz up the middle and he made a heck of a play getting the ball up to me. At that point, it's just my job to make the play for us, so that's what I tried to do."

Nance said his ability to recognize a blitz is part of his progression as an NFL receiver. Mostly, he just wants to show the coaches that he has big-play ability, and his consistency in doing that is what he believes he's improved on the most since joining the Vikings two years ago.

"That's what I'm working on and that's what I feel like I'm doing," he said. "My height is an advantage, and I'd like to think my speed creates some mismatches, so I try to be as well-rounded as possible."

The Vikings' top four receiver spots would appear to be locked up already, with Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, Bobby Wade and Aundrae Allison likely locks with the team. Robert Ferguson's veteran presence and positive locker room influence would seem to have him in a favorable position to hold down the fifth spot. If the Vikings keep six receivers, Nance will be in a battle with rookies Jaymar Johnson and Darius Reynaud.

But it didn't take long for the coaches to see improvement in Nance's consistency in training camp.

"A year makes a big difference and I see the consistency," Childress said about Nance a few days into training camp this year. "He's consistently flashed at us and shown up. I think he showed up two or three throws in a row right there. (He's) making some nice grabs, catching it, running good routes. He's doing a good job."

It just remains to be seen how long Nance will be able to hone his craft.





Viking Update Top Stories

\r\n","mobileBody":"Martin Nance is in a roster battle he might not have a lot of control over.

Nance has been trying to stick on the Vikings' 53-man roster since he first signed with the team in 2006, but the final game of that first season in the league was the only game in which he received playing time.

Two years later, he's in much the same situation as he was at that time, coming off a good performance but still unsure of his future in the league. In his first and final opportunity for game experience in 2006, Nance caught four passes for 33 yards.

After his last preseason performance – three catches for 74 yards, including a touchdown – against Baltimore, Nance is back to feeling like he has a chance.

\"Definitely exciting. Each guy in our group is always looking for big-play opportunities,\" he said. \"When those come, we try to make the best of them, so I was glad to do that and I'm looking forward to more.\"

That was likely his feeling coming off of his rookie season in 2006, but, despite head coach Brad Childress talking about Nance's possibilities during the offseason, 2007 saw Nance on the practice squad for the entire season.

\"Obviously we all feel confident in our abilities. (The practice squad) is a test of your patience, but at the same time when your opportunity comes and they call your number you have to step up and answer,\" he said.

He did that on Saturday, making a leaping catch in the back of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown after the Baltimore Ravens blew their coverage of him.

\"The ball felt like it was in the air for a long time. As any receiver will tell you, that's really when you have to focus in, cancel out any distractions and make the play,\" he said. \"As the play continued, I just felt like I was getting closer and closer (to the end line), so at the last second, I knew I had to get in bounds and get a knee down or a couple feet, so that's what I tried to do.\"

Nance made that catch from Tarvaris Jackson to cap the Vikings' opening drive for a 7-0 lead. He was getting more opportunities with the first-team offense because Bernard Berrian was held out of action with a sore toe.

On the Vikings' third drive, the Ravens came with a blitz that left them in single coverage on the outside. Quarterback Gus Frerotte and Nance were prepared to take full advantage of the opportunity.

\"We had been talking about that all week. We knew that they like to bring the blitz and knowing that Gus is a veteran guy who can see all that, you expect the ball to go up and get an opportunity,\" Nance said. \"We got a big-time blitz up the middle and he made a heck of a play getting the ball up to me. At that point, it's just my job to make the play for us, so that's what I tried to do.\"

Nance said his ability to recognize a blitz is part of his progression as an NFL receiver. Mostly, he just wants to show the coaches that he has big-play ability, and his consistency in doing that is what he believes he's improved on the most since joining the Vikings two years ago.

\"That's what I'm working on and that's what I feel like I'm doing,\" he said. \"My height is an advantage, and I'd like to think my speed creates some mismatches, so I try to be as well-rounded as possible.\"

The Vikings' top four receiver spots would appear to be locked up already, with Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, Bobby Wade and Aundrae Allison likely locks with the team. Robert Ferguson's veteran presence and positive locker room influence would seem to have him in a favorable position to hold down the fifth spot. If the Vikings keep six receivers, Nance will be in a battle with rookies Jaymar Johnson and Darius Reynaud.

But it didn't take long for the coaches to see improvement in Nance's consistency in training camp.

\"A year makes a big difference and I see the consistency,\" Childress said about Nance a few days into training camp this year. \"He's consistently flashed at us and shown up. I think he showed up two or three throws in a row right there. (He's) making some nice grabs, catching it, running good routes. He's doing a good job.\"

It just remains to be seen how long Nance will be able to hone his craft.




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