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  1. #1
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    Sharper leads Vikings' defense

    [size=18px]Sharper leads Vikings' defense[/size]

    By Eric Krupka on May 30, 2006 12:31 AM

    Every team has that one guy on defense that is considered the leader. For many teams, it's an imposing linebacker that will de-cleat a ball carrier and leave the opposition intimidated. For the Minnesota Vikings , it happens to be an All-Pro safety not known for his hitting power, but rather his amazing coverage skills and propensity to take turnovers to the house for a quick six. Of course, that player is free safety Darren Sharper.

    The former enemy became the hallowed hero last season for the Vikings. Sharper was a longstanding member of the rival Green Bay Packers . However, the inept front office in Wisconsin thought he was washed up. They proceeded to release him--enter Minnesota. The Vikings wooed him from the beginning, and the chance to get back at his former team sold him. It only took two days for him to know exactly where he belonged, in the purple and white. He quickly signed a four-year contract to make his home in the boisterous Metrodome.

    Immediately, Sharper provided the Vikings with a quick dividend on their investment. He scored the first points of the season for the team, when he intercepted a Brian Griese pass and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown.

    Another highlight in his first year as a Viking occurred in a Week 10 matchup with the New York Giants . He took Eli Manning to school, and gave him a lesson the young quarterback will never forget. On a second-and-6 from the Minnesota 11, Manning dropped back to pass and thought he was going to hit wide receiver Plaxico Burress with a touchdown; instead, he saw the Vikings' free safety step in front and streak down the sideline for a 92-yard touchdown. On the day, Sharper picked off three passes in the team's 24-21 victory, in which the Minnesota Vikings amazingly failed to score an offensive touchdown.

    Quarterbacks around the league can sympathize with the young Manning, because he wasn't the only victim of the 2005-2006 season, nor has he been the only quarterback to give a failed chase while Sharper sprints to the endzone.

    Last season, Sharper finished with the second-most interceptions in the NFL as he tallied nine, only trailing Ty Law and Deltha O'Neal, who each had 10. Not bad for a "washed up" free safety.

    Aside from the interceptions, Sharper brought vast knowledge of the rival Green Bay Packers with him. After all, he practiced against that very offense for eight seasons, while a member of their defense. His knowledge of the opponent helped with the game planning, and allowed him to call out routes to help the rest of the secondary. He is also an avid film studier and has a tremendous work-ethic. His great characteristics should rub off on some of the youngsters in the secondary like Dustin Fox, rookie Cedric Griffin and perhaps hard-hitting free-agent acquisition Tank Williams.

    Sharper is the epitome of a leader on and off the field. He has never had his name in the news for a bad reason, is always trying to learn and pass along knowledge to his teammates, and mirrors the image of what owner Zygi Wilf wants in his players. He is a man of good morals, character and most importantly, a tremendous football player. Sharper has also been known to give expert football commentary to the NFL Network and the EA Sports NFL Matchup, in addition to being miked-up for NFL Films.

    Nine interceptions and two touchdowns was a great start with his new team last season. What can free safety Darren Sharper do for an encore in 2006? Possibly an interception return for a touchdown off Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell in the opening game of the season. Then, it will most likely continue with a few interceptions from the handfuls that Packers quarterback Brett Favre could be dishing out this year. In any event, look for the leader to guide the defense to great heights in '06.

    -Eric Krupka can be reached at ekrupka@realfootba[email protected]

    Sharper leads Vikings' defense

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    VikesfaninWis's Avatar
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    Re: Sharper leads Vikings' defense

    Nice read.. Sharper was a huge pickup for us last season, and I am looking forward to watching him retire as a Viking.

  3. #3
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    Re: Sharper leads Vikings' defense

    reading stuff like this gets me really excited for the new season to start... i hate the of season

  4. #4
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    Re: Sharper leads Vikings' defense

    seriously, picking him up is one of the best moves i believe we've done in years. he imidiatly brought a little bit more life to our defense, really hope he plays well again this season

    "We’ll win our own Super Bowl, with our own players. Real Vikings. Something Brett Favre can never be."

    - Dan Calabrese

  5. #5
    whackthepack is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Sharper leads Vikings' defense

    If he can just rub off on Smoot a little and get him to be the corner we were hoping for our D-backfield will be in good shape!
    What we've got here is failure to communicate.

  6. #6
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    Re: Sharper leads Vikings' defense

    I hope he can repeat his performance this year. He set a high standard for the Viking Fans and we will be expecting the same.

    I like the first paragraph, "normally it is a LB that is the leader," that speaks loud and clear to where our team is at the LB spot. We don't have a true solid guy int he middle to take the D so our S has to do it. Not taking anything away from Sharper's leadership skills, just thought that was a huge statement as to where our team has been and something to look at in the future.

  7. #7
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    Re: Sharper leads Vikings' defense

    Sharper's a baller. Fun to watch, good guy to root for. Excited about watching him again this year. Especially playing next to a guy named Tank. I could see Tank laying out some WR's causing deflections, that Sharper's about 99% sure to pick off.

    I watched tape of the 2000 Vikings / Giants NFC championship game over the weekend. Although we got destroyed that game, and our defense was only ranked like 28th that year, I saw the graphic of our LB's which were Kailee Wong, Ed McDaniel, and Dwayne Rudd. None superstars, but that's the last time I remember us actually having decent LB's. Hopefully Leber and Greenway help us out, but I remember when our LB's got INT's, sacks, forced fumbles, etc (I think they had 2 picks in the first quarter of that game). I think also a big reason our D was ranked so low that year, was not because they were so bad, but because our offense usually scored so quickly that our D was on the field most of the game. Come to think of it, maybe that's why they actually made plays. If you're on the field for 2/3 of the game you have a lot more opportunities.

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