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  1. #1
    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him

    [size=18px]Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him[/size]
    http://www.startribune.com/510/story/589512.html
    Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune

    MANKATO - The speed with which Napoleon Harris answered the question provided insight into just how miserable of an experience last season was for him.

    "It was probably the worst and the toughest year for any sport [I've played] at any level," he says without hesitation. "Anything I've ever done. High school, college, recreational, anything."

    A slight smile crosses Harris' face and he laughs one of those, "Even I can't believe it was that bad," laughs. But for Harris on and off the field, there was nothing funny about 2005 while it was happening.

    Asked to play an unfamiliar linebacker position and then benched after starting three of the first four games, Harris not only carried the burden of having been acquired from Oakland in the Randy Moss trade but also felt he never had the support of the coaching staff.

    Away from the field, it was even worse. Harris arrived at training camp a day after attending his aunt's funeral. Then about halfway through the season, Harris' best friend died of a heart attack at the age of 32.

    "He was supposed to drive up to a game and then I get a call saying, 'He's just passed,' " Harris said. "I was like, 'What?' He wasn't in bad shape. It's just one of those things you really can't explain."

    After getting married this offseason, it's no wonder Harris is looking at the 2006 season as a fresh start. And that very well might be the case.

    Harris has been working with the first team at middle linebacker in the Vikings' new Tampa-2 defense during the first two days of training camp. It's a spot Harris thought he would play in 2005. Shortly after being acquired from Oakland, Harris said he was told by former coach Mike Tice he would play in the middle. But soon thereafter veteran Sam Cowart was acquired and the plan changed.

    Who is going to play middle linebacker for the Vikings has been one of the key offseason questions. Harris, the starting middle linebacker for the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, and Dontarrious Thomas are expected to compete for the job. E.J. Henderson possibly could move over from the weak side if needed. But right now, Harris is playing between Henderson and newcomer Ben Leber.

    "Physically [Harris] really looks good," coach Brad Childress said after the opening practice on the first day of two-a-days. "I saw him show up a couple times today and that's a physical presence. That's a big man now. He's got his mind right. Physically, medically he's in good shape."

    The word around Winter Park for much of last season was that a knee injury Harris suffered in 2004 was still bothering him.

    "They said that but I think that was more of an excuse to really not let me play," said Harris, who is listed at 6-2, 255 pounds. "There was nothing wrong with my knee. It was more, I didn't like what was going on scheme-wise and what I was asked to do. And when I did do well it was overlooked."

    Harris, 27, appreciates the support from Childress and new defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, saying, "I feel like the coaches are definitely showing more faith in me by allowing me to even have an opportunity."

    He also admits if Tice was still around, he probably would be somewhere else.

    "I couldn't see myself going through what I went through last year, personally," said Harris, who had only 20 tackles in 15 games. "I wouldn't want to be here."

    Among the things in Harris' favor, is that the Moss trade is no longer fresh in the minds of fans. Being part of the deal for the standout receiver opened Harris up to frequent criticism and being able to tune it out, in Harris' words, is "easier said than done."

    "The type of job we are in, every time when I go to work my performance is in the paper, where everyone else's is not," he said. "I took a lot of criticism. But it's like a burden off my shoulders just to get a fresh start and being able to prove that I can play football and be a successful linebacker in this league. ... At least I know now I have a chance to succeed."
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  2. #2
    cajunvike's Avatar
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him

    I sure hope he steps up...we need SOMEONE to man the middle and play like a beast!!!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  3. #3
    oddmanout22287 is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind hi

    "cajunvike" wrote:
    I sure hope he steps up...we need SOMEONE to man the middle and play like a beast!!!
    :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
    I can't beleive it, no mention of "you know who"!! :lol:
    PM me if you'd like a sig.

  4. #4
    ZDoy379's Avatar
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him

    hes probably more motivated to stay physically healthy because of his friend and his aunt passing away. especially his friend only at 32. i want greenway ej and napo to start lb's. i have faith in napo and now most ppl do too.

  5. #5
    BradTheMan14 is offline Starter
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him

    i bet napolean will take the starting MLB position..
    Q: At your age, can you handle a full season?
    A: I m 37, number one. I took my family to Perkins a couple of days ago, and they didn t hand me a senior citizens discount card, so I feel pretty good.
    (Brad Johnson at an interview before the start of the season)

  6. #6
    nephilimstorm's Avatar
    nephilimstorm is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him

    agreed, even though NApo sucks and loks like he needs stimulators to reacte to the ball

  7. #7
    VikingsTw is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him

    If he can turn around what happened last year he'll be the comeback player of the year.

    It was bad last year, there where some bright spots in his physical precence but most of the time he was lost. Sometimes a new coaching staff with confidence in a player is what he needs. Like he said a fresh start, but he's got alot to prove.

    See Cris Hovan

  8. #8
    cajunvike's Avatar
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind hi

    "oddmanout22287" wrote:
    "cajunvike" wrote:
    I sure hope he steps up...we need SOMEONE to man the middle and play like a beast!!!
    :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
    I can't beleive it, no mention of "you know who"!! :lol:
    ONLY because time is slipping away for us to get "you know who" so that we could incorporate him into our defensive schemes!

    STUPID FRONT OFFICE!!!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  9. #9
    nephilimstorm's Avatar
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him

    cajun...please...im gonna call donnie edwards and have him sign you in sign language the phraze @ u!

  10. #10
    WBLVikeBabe's Avatar
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    Re: Middle linebacker Harris puts season to forget behind him

    Hmm never heard it from Harris' perspective before, I kinda feel bad for the guy. Hopefully he'll be able to step up and prove himself this year.

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