EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Jasper Brinkley has heard his critics dating back to 2009 when he was a fifth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings.
"He's just a hitter," they would say. "He's a liability in pass coverage."
The analysis was right there on Brinkley's draft biography on the NFL.com website after he was selected: "The Vikings add a hard hitter to their lineup with the selection of Brinkley. The former Gamecock punishes ball carriers and will add a bit of toughness to the Vikings defense. He also fills a need for Minnesota at linebacker."
Now, with his first chance at a regular starting assignment in the NFL, Brinkley remembers the words. As he takes the place of the unsigned E.J. Henderson as Minnesota's starting middle linebacker, he's ready to play his game and show that the descriptions were misleading. Yes, the 6-foot-1, 252-pound Brinkley is a thumper as a run defender, but he feels he's ready for all of the responsibilities of the middle linebacker in the Vikings' Co...