Photo - Andy Lyons (Getty Images)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Mankato, MN - Leading up to his recent signing with the Minnesota Vikings, Chris Crocker never laid off the preparations to enter his twelfth year in the NFL. Not quite ready to retire, Crocker admitted that he was holding out hope that the "river card" that he had with Coach Mike Zimmer in Minnesota would come on the flop.
Crocker's history with Zimmer spans back to Zimmer's lone year in Atlanta and carried over for six seasons in Cincinnati with the Bengals. Over that time, Chris was able to develop a good rapport with coach and had plenty of time to learn and perfect Coach's defensive scheme.
"In this part of my career I wouldn't want to go anywhere else," Crocker said Monday. "I'm not starting over. I wanted to play for a guy who has meant a lot for my career and I've given him everything that I have, just empty the gas tank and see where it goes."
With Chris on the open market leading into the second week of Training Camp, Zimmer saw a great opportunity. It wasn't just an opportunity to bring in an experienced player, but a chance for Zimmer to insert an on-field coach who knows the ins and outs of the defense almost as well as he does.
"I have been in the scheme pretty much all of my career," Crocker explained. "Just to come in it's the same terminology, I know most of the staff, I played with and against most of these guys so I'm familiar with them and you know Zimmer is the ultimate DB coach so you know I take my lead from him. It shouldn't be tough, I come in and I obviously know his scheme and I will help these guys learn it also."
Stepping into a situation where he may very well be the on-field expert for Zimmer's defensive sets, Chris also joins a position battle that, due to Robert Blanton's injury is completely up in the air.
According to Crocker, he's very aware of such a possibility.
"You don't have a guy who's coming into his twelfth year, been a starter his whole career going somewhere just to be on the team," Crocker explained. "I'm going to come in here and be a play maker, be an example and be a mentor. I don't really see me just being on this team as another guy."
The Vikings now have 19 defensive backs on the 90-man roster and could keep up to 11 on roster if the injuries continue to decimate the numbers in the defensive backfield. Of those 19 DBs, Crocker joins a class of 9 safeties, 8 of which will be fighting for that open free safety spot opposite of Harrison Smith.