At 38 years old, cornerback Trae Waynes continues to make a difference for the Vikings – both on the field and off.
Tim Yotter of Viking Update delved into the influence Newman has had on his teammates – offensive and defensive alike – in his two seasons in Minnesota.
*Perhaps the Vikings didn't expect Newman to hold down a starting job for two years when Head Coach Mike Zimmer recommended a then-36-year-old defensive back as a sound free-agent signing. *
Yet, Newman is still there, working craftily on the field in a variety of ways that only a learned defensive back could.
"As a guy that knows the game, when you're in certain formations, he knows the down and distance, he knows what route to predict, what route might come," cornerback Xavier Rhodes told Yotter. "He just has a really great feel of the game and being in the game. I didn't really see many people who were able to do that. There's not many people that are 38 that are playing (defensive back) right now. That tells you a lot right there."
Yotter pointed out that Newman has helped players on both sides of the ball, including wide receiver Adam Thielen, who has taken on a primary role offensively this season.
"He's a guy that we go to as receivers and say, 'Hey, what do you see in this? What do you see in that? I think I could have done this better or that better,' " Thielen told Yotter. "He's been around a long time, and he's seen a lot of routes. It's good to have that, and obviously he's great to have on this team."
While Rhodes and other defensive backs get help with route recognition, Newman can also play amateur team psychologist.
Rhodes said that Newman is not only an athletic example to follow; he's a mentor, as well.
"When he talks to me, it's more about my confidence and everything. His whole issue was last year I would dwell on my mistakes so long, and now this year he sees that I grew and now I'm a better player," Rhodes told Yotter. "And I'm becoming the player that the coaches and the players expect me to be. He's seen the confidence that he was trying to get me to have has grown a lot."
Kai Forbath helps Vikings stay on their feet
The Vikings understand – and have stressed over the past few weeks – that they need to improve on their red zone offense and get touchdowns rather than settling for field goals.
Their mantra didn't change as they found the end zone twice late in the game Sunday to defeat the Jaguars, but they appreciated the help from kicker Kai Forbath on the first four scores.
Ken Hornack for the Pioneer Press wrote that Forbath's 4-for-4 performance proved crucial to Minnesota's success. He wrote:
Forbath continued to be virtually automatic Sunday when the Vikings didn't reach the end zone against the Jacksonville Jaguars until early in the fourth quarter. His field goals of 43, 32, 40 and 46 yards set the table until the offense came around down the stretch in a 25-16 victory that kept the Vikings in postseason contention.
Forbath hasn't missed a field goal since signing with the Vikings on Nov. 16.
"Like I keep saying and saying, I just take it one kick at a time," Forbath told Hornack and other media members following the game at Jacksonville. "Whenever I get the chance to help the team score some points, I just go out there and do what I can to make the kick and then move on to the next one."
Forbath's only unsuccessful moment of the day was missing an extra point after an initial made PAT was nullified due to a false start penalty.
"It didn't feel good coming off my foot," Forbath said. "It's going to happen. I'll let you know (what went wrong) after we watch films."