Saturday, October 6, 2012
Matt Asiata A special calling for Vikings' special teamers
Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune Updated: October 5, 2012 - 11:08 PM
The Vikings are fielding "high-character kids" who accept and embrace their roles on punts and kickoffs
Matt Asiata's motivation is simple. There is a reason Asiata, the Vikings' third running back -- a fellow on the back end of the team's roster -- has no problem going braids to the wall every time he takes part in that weekly mayhem known as NFL special teams. ¶ He's wearing purple now. But a year ago he was in blue, as in blue collar. Asiata has a wife and two kids back home in Salt Lake City, and after the undrafted free agent was cut by the Vikings on the final roster move last year, he put food on his table by working in a warehouse -- picking items up, dropping items off, training on the side. You don't forget that. ¶ "I have a wife and kids to support," Asiata said. "They stick in my head every day. Every Sunday I am playing for them and for the team."
This is the kind of guy Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer wants. Guys who look at special teams as an NFL meal ticket rather than the scraps that go to those who aren't atop the offensive or defensive depth chart.
Guys like Asiata, determined to make the most of a second chance. Or Rhett Ellison, a backup tight end who was so surprised to be taken in April's draft that he cried. Or linebacker Larry Dean, the only undrafted free agent to make the Vikings roster last year, going from NCAA Division II Valdosta State to the NFL on the strength of special teams play.
"You have to accept your role, know your role and embrace that role," Dean said.
If enough people do that, good things can happen.
"It starts with high-character kids," Priefer said. "We're bringing in the right people, in my opinion. Last year when we brought in some guys late, because of injuries, they didn't buy in. But the guys we drafted who are here this year? They know it keeps them on an NFL roster."