Sherels, most notably known as the Vikings' punt returner the past two seasons, has done an exceptional job returning punts, but he has always been a liability in coverage. The Vikings can't cut Sherels unless they can find someone capable of taking on the punt-return duties.
Bring on Bobby Felder.
Felder, an undrafted second-year player from Nicholls State, spent last season on the Vikings' practice squad learning the ropes of the NFL. This offseason, he has made a strong case to be on the 53-man roster, both in coverage and as a punt returner. The upcoming week will be huge for Felder as he tries to solidify a roster spot and prove that he can deal with any given tasks.
"This will be a big week for Bobby," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's going to get some extended snaps in the nickel situations as well as special teams."
Felder was one of eight players to spend the 2012 season on the Vikings' practice squad. His five interceptions during his senior year at Nicholls State proved he has great awareness and a nose for the football.
"He's a very instinctive player who has very good awareness when it comes to football," Frazier said. "That was one of the things that struck us when he was on the scout team."
The Vikings lost a physical corner when the Vikings released Antoine Winfield unexpectedly. Antoine was pound-for-pound one of the toughest players in the league. Felder is no Winfield, but he plays fearless, smart football.
"He's a very good athlete, very intelligent and he players bigger than he is," special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. "He is probably about 200 pounds, but he plays like a bigger guy in terms of being physical in the return game especially. But the plays he made the other day [against Buffalo] were very exciting for him and exciting for us."
Felder flashed in his three punt returns against the Buffalo Bills in the Vikings' second preseason game. In his three returns, Felder combined for 62 yards (20.7 average), including a long of 37 yards, outperforming counterpart Marcus Sherels.
If he can continue his impressive preseason, there is sufficient reasoning to believe Felder makes the 53-man roster while Sherels is sent home packing.
All quotes are obtained from live press conference.
Dennis Parsons is a Minnesota-area sportswriter covering the Minnesota Vikings for Vikings Central. He previously covered all Minnesota professional sports teams for Minnesota Sports News Nightly. You can email him at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @Parsons_VC.
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