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singersp
08-30-2006, 07:21 AM
Vikings: Edwards gaining respect (http://www.startribune.com/510/story/644142.html)
Perhaps lost among the battles at other positions is the emergence of the second-year player as the Vikings nickelback.

Mark Craig, Star Tribune
Last update: August 29, 2006 – 11:07 PM

The first time people noticed Vikings cornerback Dovonte Edwards was last summer when he intercepted Brad Johnson twice in one day during two-a-days in Mankato.
"I know he got me on an out," said Johnson, whose first pick was returned for a touchdown during team drills. "He might have gotten me a second time, too. I don't remember, but I do know I noticed Dovonte."

It was a big day for Edwards. He was an undrafted rookie from North Carolina State. Johnson was a 14-year veteran with a Super Bowl championship ring from his days in Tampa Bay.

"I think the other pick came in 1-on-1s," Edwards said. "I was real excited. But as [current defensive coordinator] Mike Tomlin always says, 'Don't pat yourself on the back too much in this league.' "

Edwards made the Vikings' final roster last season as an extra defensive back and special-teams player. This year, he's a virtual lock as the team's nickelback, and will get his first start as a Viking -- preseason or regular season -- when Fred Smoot rests his rib contusion in Thursday night's preseason finale at Dallas.

"The coaches really don't tell us too much, so when they tell me I'm the guy [at nickelback], I'll come tell you guys," Edwards said. "Until then, I just come to work and prove my worth."

Edwards became the leading candidate for the nickelback position when Brian Williams, a college teammate, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars during free agency. Cedric Griffin, a rookie second-round draft pick, appears to be Edwards' closest competitor. Griffin will play nickelback against the Cowboys.

"It's funny because when Brian and I were [college] teammates, I was a freshman receiver and he was the senior cornerback," Edwards said. "I never thought I'd play cornerback. I was a receiver my whole life up until 2003."

Actually, Edwards' first love was basketball. Growing up in Chapel Hill, N.C., he had about 30 Division I-A basketball scholarship offers.

"I was more highly regarded as a point guard," Edwards said. "Duke was one of the teams that wanted me."

Edwards chose N.C. State and played football and basketball for the first two years.

"I figured my future was in football, and it was," Edwards said. "I wasn't drafted, but that's OK. It's like a chip on my shoulder. Really, it's more like a boulder."

The nation -- or at least its "Monday Night Football" fans -- first noticed Edwards last Nov. 21 at Lambeau Field when he intercepted the Packers' Brett Favre and returned the ball 51 yards for a touchdown in a 20-17 Vikings victory.

"I think Dovonte has a feel for the game and route recognition," Johnson said. "Take the play in Green Bay. He kind of falls into things and makes plays."

Edwards said his background as a receiver sometimes helps him anticipate pass routes before they're completed. That helped him make the play against Favre.

"It wasn't until after the game and reporters made a big deal out of it that it hit me that I picked off a Hall of Famer," Edwards said. "But at the time, it's just football. Whether it's Brett Favre or their third-teamer, it was still six points for us."

According to research by The Tennessean newspaper, only three cornerback tandems started all 16 regular-season games in 2005. And only 19 cornerbacks started every game, including the Vikings' Antoine Winfield.

In other words, Thursday might not be the last time this 23-year-old starts for the Vikings this season.

"Who knows, but I do know I've gained a lot of confidence the past year or so from the Winfields, the [Darren] Sharpers, the Smoots," Edwards said. "It's big to be the nickelback, and it's big to get a start, even if it is the preseason. It's big anytime I get to step on the field."


Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

skum
08-30-2006, 09:08 AM
Dovonte Superbowl MVP 2006/7 Season!

Mr. Purple
08-30-2006, 10:57 AM
He should develope nicley for us.Seeing that he was one of the greats CB's in the league teaching him.As well as Smoot and Sharper.I really like Davonte and I think hes got a bright future with us!

PurplePeopleEaters
08-30-2006, 12:05 PM
I've watched his whole career (college to NFL) and i'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of impact he can have on the team and the unit as a whole. To tell everyone the truth, he really wasn't all that good at NC State.. above average at best. Its unusual to see a player do better in the NFL than they did in college but I really hope it happens.

SKOL
08-30-2006, 12:17 PM
Nice read.
Thanks newshound.

Vikes_King
08-30-2006, 01:43 PM
we have a lot of talented young DB's (griffin, blue, devonte, whitaker, fox, etc) its good to know we got some guys that will be here if our current starters go down

cogitans
08-30-2006, 01:47 PM
"Vikes_King" wrote:


we have a lot of talented young DB's (griffin, blue, devonte, whitaker, fox, etc) its good to know we got some guys that will be here if our current starters go down
I feel Fox might risk being the one getting cut. Which is kind of crasy him being a 3rd rounder from a year ago, and he never really got a chance on the field.

cajunvike
08-30-2006, 01:54 PM
"PurplePeopleEaters" wrote:


I've watched his whole career (college to NFL) and i'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of impact he can have on the team and the unit as a whole. To tell everyone the truth, he really wasn't all that good at NC State.. above average at best. Its unusual to see a player do better in the NFL than they did in college but I really hope it happens.


*cough* Brad Johnson *cough*

He barely started at Florida State in college, yet he has started for FOUR different NFL teams (Vikes twice)...and won a Super Bowl.

PurplePeopleEaters
08-30-2006, 01:56 PM
Yeah Tom Brady as well but still... my point was that it is unusual and there are only a few cases.

Warp
08-30-2006, 05:01 PM
Edwards is really doing well at getting better. Lets just hope it continues because he definetely has the athletic ability to play the position. Im lovin' the way our young backups in the secondary are looking!