Vikings WR Simpson frustrated with deactivation

Vikings WR Simpson frustrated with deactivation

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Jerome Simpson's deactivation Sunday cost him a chance to help the Minnesota Vikings against the Washington Redskins. It also cost the receiver a pretty good chunk of change.

Simpson said Wednesday that every time he is deactivated from a game it costs him $60,000 in bonus money. The Vikings built that clause into his one-year contract because the former Cincinnati Bengal was coming off a drug arrest which eventually resulted in a three-game suspension to start the season.

The Vikings deactivated Simpson because of a back issue that caused numbness in one of his legs and limited him the previous week. Simpson was frustrated because he felt he was ready to play, but coach Leslie Frazier said he didn't see quite enough from him in practice last week to let him play against the Redskins.

``You lose $60,000, you'd be mad, too. You know?'' Simpson said. ``We just talked about it, and we're on the same page. I'm just a competitor, man. I just want to be out there on that field. Anytime something gets taken away from you you're obviously going to be kind of upset about it.''

It's not just the money that had Simpson upset. He's the team's only viable deep threat on the perimeter, and he watched the Redskins cram 10 players within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage on most downs on Sunday to try to neutralize the short pass to Percy Harvin and the handoff to Adrian Peterson, the Vikings offense's two biggest weapons.

Peterson did not practice on Wednesday, with the Vikings preferring to let him rest his sprained left ankle. Frazier said it was just precautionary and he fully expects Peterson to play Sunday against Arizona.

Simpson, who practiced full-go, said he also feels a sense of urgency to get on the field because of the suspension that took three games away at the start of the season.

``Just because I missed the first three games and I'm just a competitor and I just want to be out there playing helping my guys any way I can,'' Simpson said.

Frazier said he understood the emotion and hopes to see Simpson practice fully this week and return for the game against Arizona on Sunday.

``The way he plays, he's an energetic guy who has such a passion for the game,'' Frazier said. ``If you take some of that away, some of his elusiveness even after the catch, you affected his game. Just wanted to be smart, give him a little bit more time.''

While the Vikings have maintained all along that it was a back issue that was causing the tightness and numbness in his leg, Simpson is insisting there is no issue with his back. He said he had some tightness in his calf the night before the Vikings' game against Tennessee, then woke up the next morning to find that it spread down his leg to his foot.

``It was very scary because I never experienced anything like it before,'' he said. ``And then just to wake up with it out of the blue was frightening.''

Quarterback Christian Ponder has struggled to get the ball down the field with Simpson out and veterans Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu unable to get separation from defensive backs on a consistent basis. And Ponder knows Simpson wants to get on the field.

``I think he's definitely disappointed he's not out there,'' Ponder said. ``I don't know if he's frustrated. I think he understands that he's kind of got a weird injury. I think he'll be back this week and he's going to practice all week and we'll see if he's set for the game, but we'll be happy when he's back. I know he'll be happy when he's back.''

Simpson said his injury has improved with treatment and he now feels 100 percent. The Vikings hope he can take out his frustrations on the Cardinals.

``I'm fired up regardless of the situation,'' Simpson said. ``I try to take the same approach every week, just being fiery and moving on to that next game. So just coach deactivating me doesn't put like a sense of that makes you mad. That's nothing personal against him. He's just doing what's best for the team.''

---

Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski

---

Online:http://Pro32.ap.org andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Gillmore: No panic despite thinning TE ranks

Gillmore: No panic despite thinning TE ranks

When the Ravens entered training camp, tight end was considered the deepest position on the team after the signing of veteran Ben Watson and the return of Dennis Pitta from two serious hip injuries.

But now, the Ravens are staring at the prospect of having just one healthy tight end for their Week 1 game against the Bills.

Watson suffered what is believed to be a season-ending Achilles injury on the first play of the Ravens preseason game Saturday night against the Lions, and Dennis Pitta (broken finger) and Maxx Williams (undisclosed) remain sidelined with injuries. Two other tight ends, Darren Waller and Nick Boyle must begin serving suspensions when the regular season starts – Waller four games and Boyle 10.

So of the top six tight ends on the depth chart, Crockett Gillmore is the only healthy one who will be on the roster for the Sept. 11 opener.

But Gillmore, who had one catch for 2 yards in the Ravens 30-9 win Saturday night, said no one is in panic mode.

MORE RAVENS: 3 OBSERVATIONS FROM FLACCO'S PRESEASON DEBUT

“This is an organization that has dealt with those kinds of things since I’ve been here, and we’ve always had guys step up,” Gillmore said.

Watson’s injury does have a painful ring of familiarity; the Ravens lost veterans Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith to season-ending Achilles injuries last year.

“It’s not like we’re sweating bullets around here,” Gillmore said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can play.”

The problem is, at least two of them – Waller and Boyle – can’t play early in the season. Pitta has been out with a broken finger sustained in a scuffle with Kamalei Correa in a stadium practice earlier this month, and Wiliams has missed the past two preseason games. Their availability for Week 1 remains uncertain.

Watson’s injury could open the door for Daniel Brown to make the team, at least until Waller’s suspension is over, depending on the progress of Pitta and Williams.

Another option might be to look to utilize fullback Kyle Juszczyk more often in a hybrid role.

 “That’s a versatile guy that can do everything,” Gillmore said.

“We’re not sweating,” Gillmore said. “We’ve got a bunch of receivers, too. We’ll make it work.”

Quick Links

Ravens win preseason game vs. Lions, but lose Watson for season

Ravens win preseason game vs. Lions, but lose Watson for season

BALTIMORE – Five instant observations from the Ravens’ 30-9 preseason win over the Lions, which made the Ravens 3-0 this preseason:

1. Ben Watson’s season-ending Achilles injury made this victory hollow:

The veteran tight end was lost on the first play from scrimmage, and his season was lost before he ever played a regular season game for the Ravens. Football can be cruel.

2.  Rookie running back Kenneth Dixon’s knee injury could be another blow.

It was announced that Dixon had a sprained left knee, but he was helped off the field, and no timetable was given for his return. It would not be surprising if an MRI is forthcoming. If so, many people will be holding their breath.

MORE RAVENS: DEEPER LOOK AT FLACCO'S PRESEASON DEBUT

3. Rookie pass rusher Matt Judon looks ready to have an immediate impact.

Judon had a strip-sack on another active night. At the very least, Judon looks like could have an immediate role as a situational pass rusher.

4. Linebacker-safety Anthony Levine could be the Ravens’ most improved player.

Levine had an athletic interception, and he has made a successful transition to playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Last week, Levine picked off a pass on a two-point conversion attempt against the Colts and took it to the house. Levine’s ability to line up in multiple spots, and to make plays, could make the Ravens’ defense more versatile and less predictable.

5.  Wide receiver Jeremy Butler keeps making plays.

I know it’s preseason, and I know the Ravens are deep at wide receiver. But I think they have to keep Jeremy Butler. He had his second touchdown catch of the preseason, he can contribute on special teams, and he caught 31 passes last season. I see the Ravens keeping seven receivers - Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore, and Butler.

Quick Links

Nats' bullpen, defense continue to cause problems, lead to losses

Nats' bullpen, defense continue to cause problems, lead to losses

Starter A.J. Cole made it 5 2/3 innings on Saturday afternoon, which is pretty good considering that's how much Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg combined to pitch against the Rockies less than two weeks ago. Gio Gonzalez also only made it three innings in that series due to a rain delay.

And in the time since, the Nats' bullpen has been battered around by all sorts of elements including injuries and short outings from starters. The Nationals' next off-day on Thursday, Sept. 1 can't come soon enough to put them out of their current 20 games in 20 days misery.

Cole's outing, by all accounts, could have been a lot worse. But unfortunately for the Nationals, Saturday's game went to extra innings, forcing manager Dusty Baker to do some things he wouldn't normally prefer to do. Like, use the newly acquired Marc Rzepczynski for 2 1/3 innings. Or, to go to Mark Melancon for the third straight game. Or, to leave Yusmeiro Petit on the mound in the 11th even when it was clear he just didn't have it.

For Petit, in particular, Baker felt like he had no other choice, even after the right-hander served up a two-run homer to Charlie Blackmon.

"We felt badly for Yusmeiro because we had to leave him in there, he was our last pitcher we didn't have [Koda] Glover and we were trying to stay away from [Mark] Melancon because that was his third day in a row and we didn't have [Shawn] Kelley. We were down to our last player, we had no more players on the bench and that was our last player, I don't know who was going to pitch if he didn't get out of that inning. He took one for the team so to speak," Baker said.

Petit's inning got off on a sour note with an error by Anthony Rendon at third base. It was one of two errors committed by the Nationals on Saturday. One was by Rzepczynski in the seventh and that one helped lead to a run. Rzepczynski also messed up fielding a bunt in the ninth. Cole also allowed a run on a wild pitch during an intentional walk.

It was a rough day for the Nats, who were plagued by uncharacteristic mistakes. That has been a theme lately and the Nationals hope it ends soon.

“We address it daily, but you cant harp on it. Like I said the other day these things go in streaks," Baker said. "Tony is sure handed over there. We haven’t seen Rzepczynski. He just threw that ball over the head. They bunted on us twice a couple of times and got hits on us. We just have to continue to work.”

The Nats have now made 14 errors in their last nine games. It's been bizarre to watch and it has some at a loss for words.

“Can’t call it. I don’t know. One of those things," left fielder Jayson Werth said.

[RELATED: Harper explains ejection vs. Rockies: 'It's not a strike']

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES