Chester Taylor had a decision to make when he became a free agent in 2006. Things might have been much different for all parties involved if he had chosen an offer from the Baltimore Ravens instead of the Minnesota Vikings.
The Baltimore Ravens
have made a significant investment in the running back position in recent years. The team traded to get Willis McGahee
and used a second-round pick to draft Ray Rice
But things could have been very different if not for a decision made early in the free agency period of spring 2006. The Ravens were posed with a conundrum – sign one of their two running backs. They had Jamal Lewis
, who had joined the elite 2,000-yard rushing club and been the offensive backbone of their Super Bowl championship team, and they had Chester Taylor
At the time, the Vikings were looking for a lead back and Taylor was available. The Ravens were balking at which way to go. Taylor ended up making the call for both teams.
"Truth be told, they did make an offer, but I chose to come to Minnesota," Taylor said. "I just wanted a fresh start with a new team. I got it here with Minnesota."
In his only season as the Vikings featured back, Taylor ran for more than 1,200 yards and proved himself worthy of being a starting running back in the NFL. In 2007, the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson
and Taylor has morphed into a multi-purpose back that has become a third-down and passing-situation specialist.
It would be understandable for Taylor to have a little extra incentive to stick it to the Ravens, but he enters Sunday's game with no regrets or animosity. Some of that is because of Taylor's personality. Another part of that is simply because the turnover on the roster from the time he was there until now is so pronounced that there aren't that many former teammates left.
"It wasn't just me," Taylor said of his exodus from Baltimore. "There were a lot of guys who left about the same time. There are only a handful of guys still there now that were there when I was with the team."
The Vikings' final injury report listed Darius Reynaud as doubtful with a hamstring injury, two players as questionable – Percy Harvin (shoulder) and Phil Loadholt (ankle) – and four players as probable – Ray Edwards (hamstring), Cedric Griffin (hand), Steve Hutchinson (back) and Naufahu Tahi (ankle).
The Ravens' final injury report lists left tackle Jared Gaither, whom fans may remember suffered a frightening neck injury two weeks ago, as doubtful. Five other players – WR Mark Clayton (shoulder), LB Jarret Johnson (shoulder), TE Edgar Jones (hamstring), DT Haloti Ngata (back) and WR David Tyree (hamstring) – are listed as probable.
The Vikings-Rams game came with a price. The NFL handed down fines for three separate incidents. Artis Hicks was hit with a $5,000 fine for a shot on Rams defensive tackle Gary Gibson. Kevin Williams was hit with a $7,500 fine for a play in which he, for all intents, inadvertently put his hand inside the helmet of Rams quarterback Kyle Boller and jerked his head around. Rams cornerback Quincy Butler was fined $7,500 for a horse collar tackle on Percy Harvin in the second quarter.
Traffic alert: According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, all lanes of southbound Interstate 35W between Interstate 94 and Highway 62 will be closed Friday night through Monday at 5 a.m. Northbound I-35W will be open; however, fans can't reach it while traveling north on I-35W from south of Highway 62 (i.e. the close will eliminate the intersection of I-35W and Highway 62). Additionally, all lanes of westbound Highway 62 between I-35W and Lyndale Avenue will be closed during the same time period. Consider yourselves advised.
From the "Win a Bar Bet" Department comes this: The Washington Redskins are going to set a dubious record Sunday. They will play their sixth game of the season and each of their opponents at the time they played them didn't have a win. They play the 0-5 Chiefs this week. The streak will end after this week, since they play Philadelphia in Week 7.
In a sign that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially given up on 2009, they announced that they have traded DE Gaines Adams, the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft (a draft where Adrian Peterson was taken three picks later), to Chicago for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft. Officially include the Bucs as a team with A.D. regrets.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.