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Sherels Adds to Vikings Record with 5th Punt Return TD

MINNEAPOLIS –Marcus Sherels' record is made to be broken by … Marcus Sherels.

After extending his franchise record for punt return touchdowns to four with a 54-yard play at Carolina two weeks ago, Sherels added a fifth return score Sunday, this time taking it 79 yards to the end zone.

In true Sherels fashion, however, he deflected all attention from himself.

"It started with our defense pinning [Texans punter Shane Lechler] deep," Sherels said. "We knew if we did that and did a good job on the gunners, which our guys did, we'd have a chance."

"[Special Teams Coordinator Coach Priefer] always talks about 'setting our returns,' and I did that," he added. "The guys did a good job blocking, and we scored."

The touchdown was Sherels' second longest and the first in front of hometown fans for the Minnesota native.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said it's not just Minnesotans that are in Sherels' corner.

"Everybody loves Marcus because he does anything you ask him to do," Zimmer said. "Sometimes he plays receiver on the scout team, he plays DB, any position you ask him to do. He's a gunner, he'd do anything for you."

Added Zimmer: "He's a lot like a lot of our guys that we have on this football team."

When Sherels hears the pop of the football off the punter's shoe, he's confident in both his abilities and in his teammates as he tracks the pigskin through the air.

 "Our team always believes we can score," Sherels said. "Every time we get the ball."

Kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson spends a lot of time with Sherels at special teams practice. Patterson said Sherels' performance on the field speaks volumes for a man of so few words.

"You can't say much to him, but once he has the ball in his hand, he's so explosive," Patterson said. "It seems that if you kick it to Marcus, he's going to make you pay for it. On special teams [our mentality is] 'Let's go make a difference each and every game,' and that's what we've been doing these past five weeks."

Captain Munnerlyn said that since he joined the Vikings in 2014, he's admired Sherels' work ethic, versatility and passion that sometimes goes quietly unnoticed. After the game, the cornerback and a handful of teammates gave Sherels a hard time for looking away from the cameras.

It's a quality that his comrades appreciate about him, though.

"He's just a player," Munnerlyn said. "He's a football player who loves the game, and he plays with a lot of passion."

With his touchdown Sunday, Sherels tied with Percy Harvin for most combined kick return touchdowns in a career by a Viking and became the first Minnesota player to have two 100-yard punt return games in a career. He also moved into second place all-time for punt return yards with 1,688, trailing Leo Lewis' 1,812 from 1981-91.

It's quite the stat line for someone who's often been looked at as an underdog.

Sherels began his journey to the NFL as a walk-on at the University of Minnesota before signing with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Since spending his rookie season on the practice squad, Sherels has continued to solidify himself as an integral part of Minnesota's roster.

"[Guys even] question if he will make the roster, and he comes out and proves himself every year," Munnerlyn said. "He's a special athlete, and maybe the best athlete on the team. He's a guy that can do everything." 

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