View Full Version : Ray Edwards: Rookie steps up on defensive line

10-11-2006, 06:59 AM
Vikings: Rookie steps up on defensive line (http://www.startribune.com/510/story/734531.html)

Judd Zulgad and Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
Last update: October 10, 2006 – 9:40 PM

Although Ray Edwards' physical attributes were never in question when he decided to enter the NFL draft last spring, concerns about his work ethic caused the potential first-round pick to slip to the Vikings in Round 4.

Five games into his rookie season, Edwards is rewarding the faith the Vikings showed in him. The defensive end recorded his second sack of the season in Sunday's 26-17 victory over Detroit, and is third on the team with two sacks. That trails defensive tackle Kevin Williams by one sack and Darrion Scott by 1½.

But Edwards made two plays in the fourth quarter Sunday that stood out more than his sack. The first came on a fourth-and-10 situation, when Lions quarterback Jon Kitna tossed the ball away as Edwards was about to sack him. Linebacker E.J. Henderson intercepted the pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.

On the Lions' final drive, Edwards flattened Kevin Jones after the running back's 4-yard reception. Jones suffered a concussion on the play.

Edwards' contribution has been instrumental with starting right end Erasmus James lost for the season because of a knee injury. Since James was hurt in the second game, the Vikings have used Kenechi Udeze as the starting right end and Scott at left end. Edwards is utilized as a pass rusher in nickel (passing) situations and also as part of the Vikings' regular rotation of linemen.

"The coaches have great confidence in me," he said.

Edwards left Purdue after becoming disgruntled during a junior season in which he lost his starting job. He had been a Big Ten all-freshman choice by the Sporting News in 2003 and an all-Big Ten honorable mention pick in 2004.

"The thing with Ray is he's a great pass rusher," Udeze said. "Especially being at such a young age. He knows what to do and what not to do and he uses it to his strength. After Raz [James] went out, there was no question he was going to step up and play. He has been ready since training camp. It's unfortunate that Raz got hurt but it's fortunate that Ray is stepping up and playing big right now."

Roster moves

On the day they released quarterback Drew Henson from the practice squad, the Vikings signed free-agent wide receiver Bethel Johnson. To make room for on the active roster, the Vikings released receiver Maurice Mann.

Johnson caught 30 passes in four seasons with New England before being traded to New Orleans. The Saints released him with an injury settlement this spring because of a sprained knee.

Johnson could offer the Vikings immediate help as a kickoff returner, having averaged 25.2 yards on 102 returns for the Patriots.

Henson's release signals that rookie Tarvaris Jackson will be ready to resume practicing when the Vikings return from their bye next week. Jackson tore the meniscus in his right knee Sept. 21 and has been recovering from surgery.


• Vikings running back Chester Taylor ranks second in the NFL with 128 total offensive touches (111 carries, 17 receptions), trailing only St. Louis' Steven Jackson (131). Overall, Taylor ranks fourth in the NFL with 538 total yards from scrimmage.

• For several years during his eight-season tenure in Green Bay, safety Darren Sharper got a full week off during the bye. "You know how it goes," he said. "When you first leave, you're just excited to be away. But as it keeps going and going, your body is so used to going through a schedule, that by the weekend, you feel like it's time to go back to work. You're happy to be off, but after a few days, you want to come back and play football."

• Although the Vikings' Chris Kluwe ranks last in the NFL in net punting average at 34.8 yards, the team appears to have no interest in 12-year veteran Todd Sauerbrun. Sauerbrun, who completed a four-game suspension for use of ephedra this week, was released by the Denver Broncos on Tuesday.

Judd Zulgad • jzulgad@startribune.com Kevin Seifert • kseifert@startribune.com

10-11-2006, 08:01 AM
Somebody needs to upload that hit..

cough* ultra *cough

10-11-2006, 08:01 AM
Kluwe's stats are skewed because of his poor showing in Buffalo.. If people are convinced by that statistic to go out and get a dope fied, especially one who took a substance that was banned in the wake of Korey Stringer's death, then they need to think long and hard about why they watch American Football.

10-11-2006, 07:59 PM
Although the Vikings' Chris Kluwe ranks last in the NFL in net punting average at 34.8 yards, the team appears to have no interest in 12-year veteran Todd Sauerbrun.
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune


10-11-2006, 08:03 PM
I think Kluwe does just fine.

10-11-2006, 08:06 PM
"Property0f" wrote:

Although the Vikings' Chris Kluwe ranks last in the NFL in net punting average at 34.8 yards, the team appears to have no interest in 12-year veteran Todd Sauerbrun.
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune


I read that & highlighted it in an article I posted this morning.

If the team isn't expressing interest in him, I figure it's a dead issue.

10-11-2006, 08:20 PM
RayEd is rippin' ish up!!!!

10-12-2006, 07:22 AM
Posted on Thu, Oct. 12, 2006

Edwards looks like a steal (http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/sports/15736370.htm)



As his teammates raced to meet family and friends, Ray Edwards lingered in the Vikings' locker room Sunday at the Metrodome. Wearing a satisfied smile, Edwards leisurely put on his clothes, savoring his role in a 26-17 victory over the Detroit Lions.

"I'm just feeling good," said Edwards, a 6-foot-4, 268-pound rookie defensive end. "I feel I got a new life, a new start. I'm just trying to show everybody who I am."

Who he is depends on who is looking.

To the Vikings, Edwards is a key role player, replacing speedy Erasmus James, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month. Edwards has sacks in consecutive games, and he was toppling Jon Kitna on Sunday when the Lions quarterback threw an ill-advised pass that linebacker E.J. Henderson picked off and returned 45 yards for a game-clinching touchdown.

"He's really picking up his level of play," safety Darren Sharper said of Edwards. "He's given us the pass rush that we needed (after we lost) Erasmus James."

But to coaches at Purdue last season, Edwards didn't give them what they wanted. He was labeled an underachiever with a questionable work ethic and was removed from the starting lineup at midseason.

Purdue coach Joe Tiller and defensive coordinator Brock Spack shed little light on Edwards last season, and Spack declined comment for this story through a team spokesman. Last year's defensive ends coach, Tony Samuel, now the head coach at Southeast Missouri, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

But Pro Football Weekly summed up the prevailing opinion on Edwards before the NFL draft: "Has physical attributes of a first-rounder but plays like a free agent."

"It makes me mad, but people always got something negative to say, until you prove them wrong," Edwards said. "There are a lot of suspects out there who said I wasn't coachable, and I couldn't do this, and I couldn't do that. I just want to show people who I am."

Edwards should have been drafted long before the fourth round, San Francisco 49ers defensive line coach Gary Emanuel said.

"I was a little bit surprised that he was around that long," said Emanuel, who coached Edwards for his first two seasons at Purdue. "The couple of years I had Ray, he was very coachable, and he listened, and he was around the office. He was a real football guy."

One of Spack's criticisms: "That I was too slow to play defensive end," Edwards recalled.

Tell that to Lions veteran lineman Barry Stokes, whom Edwards blew past for a sack in the second quarter Sunday. Vikings defensive end Darrion Scott recognized Edwards' quickness in training camp, and he saw in him maturity beyond his 21 years.

"Usually as a rookie, they come in and don't have that type of confidence," Scott said. "But he knows everything about protections, and he's not nervous when he goes out there. He just goes out there and makes plays."

To Ozie Davis, Edwards is an example for the many young men he coaches in Cincinnati.

Davis first coached Edwards when Edwards was in seventh grade, and he remains one of his mentors. That's why Davis was so upset about what Edwards endured last year.

"It was all BS," Davis said. "They were trying to keep him in school, in my opinion. He's never had one issue with a coach since I've known him. He was thinking about leaving early, and all of a sudden he's uncoachable. But before then, he was a model student-athlete. Come on, man."

The negativity arguably cost Edwards millions, but he has no regrets. He makes enough money that his grandmother, Levonia Beamon, doesn't have to work anymore, although she wants to for a few more years.

With his father out of the picture, and his mother "not making the best decisions," Edwards moved in with his grandparents when he was 12.

Despite his broken family, Edwards' dream was impenetrable.

Scott Vonderhaar remembered a telling conversation he had with Edwards during a post-practice ride to Edwards' grandparents' home. Vonderhaar wondered why he wasn't like other kids from fractured families.

"He said, 'I've got two choices,' " recalled Vonderhaar, who was an assistant varsity coach at Woodward High School in Cincinnati. " 'I can live that way and be dead by my mid-20s, or I can use my God-given talents to get out of it.' "

In 2000, Edwards' grandfather, John Beamon, died of lung cancer. Levonia Beamon and an uncle provided for the family, while Edwards focused on school (where he was salutatorian) and sports (where he was four-year starter and first-team all-state in football).

"My grandma has been my backbone," Edwards said.

To Beamon, Edwards is the ideal grandson.

"He had a lot of self-confidence, and he made his goal," Beamon said. "I'm just proud of him."

After the Vikings' bye week, Edwards wants to keep working toward his goal for this season: defensive rookie of the year. He has more sacks than another defensive end, Mario Williams, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

So can Edwards be something else for the Vikings?

"Big Play Ray," Sharper said of a potential nickname for Edwards. "But we haven't called him that yet. We're going to wait a little while until we get some more."

Sean Jensen can be reached at sjensen@pioneerpress.com.

10-12-2006, 09:24 AM
Good article about Edwards and he has looked really impressive for a rookie and I think he will be a force on the Vikes!
Better watch out Kenechi and Erasmus (when he gets back) you have some competition for that starting job next year.

10-12-2006, 11:34 AM

"After the Vikings' bye week, Edwards wants to keep working toward his goal for this season: defensive rookie of the year."

That would be AMAZING!!!