The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a shameful loss to the Cleveland Browns over the weekend. With almost no positives to take away from the game, one player that showed potential was cornerback and punt returner Marcus Sherels.
Sherels, an undrafted rookie from the University of Minnesota, has been the Vikings’ primary punt returner the past three years. He was forced into coverage on Sunday, due to injuries in the secondary. Cornerbacks Chris Cook and A.J. Jefferson left the game against the Browns due to injury, giving 5-foot-10 Sherels an increased role.
Although Sherels was far from perfect, he had a very solid day in coverage and led the team with eight tackles, many of those in the open field. There is no question that he was one of the better players on the field for the Vikings. Sherels was all over the field making tackles, including making a huge tackle on a third down late in the game.
According to Pro Football Focus, Sherels graded out as the best defensive back on the Vikings this past Sunday. The Browns tried to pick on Sherels, who had 18 passes thrown into his coverage, but he gave up only 50 yards on nine completions.
“Not a bad total when the opposing quarterback has went after you on 18 of his 54 drop backs,” PFF wrote. “He added a pass breakup on 1st-and-10 with 5:12 left in the second quarter, but it was his ability to stay close to opposing receivers that really stood out.”
Considering Josh Robinson has been struggling in coverage this year, the Vikings should consider putting Sherels in coverage more often. Although it was just one game, Sherels had a very promising 2013 season debut in the secondary. If anything, he deserves more playing time to see if the game was a fluke or if he can sustain his covering ability in multiple games.
Heck, Sherels had a good preseason in coverage, as he recorded an interception in the Vikings’ final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.