By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings struck gold when replacing a starter with a former No. 1 overall draft pick once this season, so why not try again?
After acquiring 2010 top pick Sam Bradford to replace injured Teddy Bridgewater before the season opener, the Vikings signed 2008 top pick Jake Long Monday. He provides depth behind T.J. Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles at the two offensive tackle positions.
Long was considered one of the league’s best tackles early in his career, but injuries have been a large part of his recent career.
“I know what I can do; I know the type of player I can be when I’m healthy,” Long said via the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Long has missed the majority of the last two seasons due to knee injuries. He played just 11 games over the last two seasons, but missed just seven games the previous seven seasons.
Long agreed to terms on a contract this offseason with the Baltimore Ravens, but the 31-year-old declined to sign when the team wanted to include an injury waiver.
“Injuries happen, and unfortunately I’ve had my fair share,” Long said. “But through all of them, I’ve put my head down, rehabbed, worked hard, haven’t given up…I got through the frustration and worked hard to get back. Now I’ve got this opportunity, and I plan to thrive in it.”
Long likely will have the opportunity to show that he can still play in the NFL should Clemmings continue to struggle. Clemmings, a second-year fourth round draft pick, had a lot of trouble with the Houston Texans’ pass rush duo of Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus in Week 5.
Long and Bradford have more in common than just their draft position and injury history. The two were teammates in St. Louis in 2013. Long is not surprised to see Bradford performing as well as he is.
“I knew he’d thrive when he came here,” Long said. “He’s showing that and doing a great job for this team.”
Long practiced with the team on Tuesday before everyone took off for the bye week. Practice will resume on Tuesday in preparation for the team’s Week 7 contest at Philadelphia.
Spielman expects “fresh” Peterson this season
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman believes that running back Adrian Peterson could still make an impact for the team this season. Peterson was placed on injured reserve after he tore the meniscus in his knee in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers. He is eligible to return for the team’s Week 11 contest against the Arizona Cardinals at US Bank Stadium.
The Vikings have 10 players currently listed on injured reserve and, per rules of the CBA, can activate one player off injured reserve after eight weeks. Spielman’s words before the team left for the bye week make you believe Peterson is the favorite to return to the active roster.
“Usually Adrian becomes strong as the season goes, and stronger as the games progress,” he said via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “So I look at it as he’s going to do everything he can to get back. …That’s at least eight, nine weeks of not taking hits on that body, which is going to make him pretty fresh.”
Practice squad player charged with DWI
Practice squad offensive lineman Isame Faciane was pulled over early Wednesday morning on suspicion of drunk driving. He was given a citation and charged with 4th degree DWI as well as driving without a Minnesota driver’s license.
The 25-year-old was seen by a police officer weaving around construction barricades while driving the wrong direction on Highway 100 in St. Louis Park. According to the police report, Faciane made a U-turn over the median on a closed section of the highway before traveling the wrong way.
“We are aware of the situation and will have further comment at the appropriate time,” the team said in a statement.
The Vikings began their bye week the previous day, which means Zimmer will not talk about the situation until at the team returns Monday.
Faciane has been on the Vikings practice squad for two-plus seasons after going undrafted out of Florida International in 2014. The Vikings moved him from defensive tackle to guard last year.