By Joe Tischler
Special to The Free Press
---- — Prior to the 2012 season, the Minnesota Vikings signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson to a one-year deal hoping he could be the ‘deep threat’ the team was lacking.
That never materialized as he only had 26 receptions for 274 yards and failed to enter the end zone in 12 games.
Last training camp, Simpson knew he would be suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. When he came back, he was injured and the season he and the Vikings envisioned never took off.
This year, with no suspension looming, Simpson’s frame of mind is uncluttered with distractions.
“My mindset is I’m free, I’m clear. I have nothing over my head,” he said. “I can just go out there and just play. I’m blessed that I have the opportunity to be able to keep playing.”
In March, Simpson re-signed with the Vikings. With the departure of Percy Harvin and the additions of veteran Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, he’s the leading pass catcher returning among the wide receivers.
“I like the coaches. I like the guys I’m around with here. I just feel comfortable here,” said Simpson on why he decided to re-sign with the team. “This is somewhere I feel like I want to be for the rest of my career.”
Simpson wowed his coaches, players, and fans with his athleticism in the 2012 preseason. Head coach Leslie Frazier sees the same Simpson so far in 2013.
“Jerome looks like the Jerome that we had a year ago about this time,” he said. “He was doing some very good things for us in the preseason and then he had to serve the time for the suspension. He came back, played a game, and then he was injured.
“We’re seeing a guy right now that I think can help our football team and really make a difference in the passing game. We’re expecting big things from him. We just need to keep him on the field and keep him healthy.”
Simpson caught 21 passes over his first three seasons in Cincinnati. He more than doubled that total in 2011 grabbing 50 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns.
That 2011 receptions total dropped nearly in half in 2012. Simpson would like to see numbers in 2013 better than those in 2012.
“I don’t really like to make predictions,” he said. “I just want to be the best receiver I can be and have a better year than I did last year.”