Vikings tight end Chase Ford has eight catches for 85 yards in the past three games since being elevated from the practice squad to the active roster to fill in for injured TE Kyle Rudolph. After stops in Philadelphia and a brief stint in Dallas, the native of Corrigan, Texas, a town of less than 2,000 people northeast of Houston, Ford caught on with Minnesota for the final two games of 2013. Vikings.com took a Timeout with Ford for a Q & A this week.
Q: What did you like or not like about growing up in a small town?
Ford: I pretty much loved everything about it. I guess you could say the only downfall to it is you can't just, you've got to drive to go to Walmart or the mall. That's kind of the only down thing.
Q: Better not forget something on your grocery list then?
Ford: We've got a local grocery store, but if you're trying to go get a TV or some shoes or something you've got to drive about 25-30 minutes. It's not too far, but it's not just hop in the car and "Let's go."
Q: Describe the transition you made from junior college to Miami and then the NFL.
Ford: To me, the way I've always explained it when people ask me, I feel like that way it was good for me because the game, it was like your talent level rose with how you were playing. It's not like an 18-year-old going to Tennessee or Miami or something like that, because it would take them by storm, like 'This game is too fast.' It was like a ladder that got me up here, a little bit better, a little bit better and then the top level.
Q: What did you learn from spending time with three NFL teams as a rookie?
I learned it don't feel good to get cut (laughs). Do everything you can to not get cut.
Q: Did you learn something to take with you to your next team?
Ford: I learned a lot. In Philly, Tom Melvin, he's the tight ends coach at Kansas City now, but he taught me a lot. There was stuff I didn't know, little things with your route running and blocking that helped me out a lot. I was only in Dallas for a week, so I'm not going to say I learned anything there, but I've learned a whole lot from last year's staff and this year's staff here.
Q: How have those experiences helped you adjust to the new offensive system here?
Ford: You've just got to be prepared for anything. Coming from high school to junior college to college, I haven't had the same playbook for more than two years since I've been playing football. Having the same playbook for years to come would be real nice.
Q: How much time do you spend in your playbook?
Ford: I'm going to start spending more time because that was something that I never really was taught, so it's something I'm learning as I go, that it helps you to watch extra film and helps you to study your plays a little more. You might know it, but if you look over it one more time, you might not mess up.
Q: Would you rather block, catch the ball or run after the catch?
Ford: You know what? If I had to pick one, I'd probably say catch the ball. That's really the reason I play football, because I like catching the football.
Q: How much emphasis do you place on catching the ball?
Ford: I've never been one of those guys that caught 100 jugs after practice every day. It was just a natural gift God gave me, where I can catch the ball. I'm thankful for that.
Q: What about the other parts besides the catch, the route running and things like that? How much of that did you have to learn more of at this level?
Ford: I had to learn all of it, pretty much. I didn't even really know how to run routes until I got into the league. That was something that Tom helped me with in Philadelphia. You would see it on paper and draw it up on paper, but you wouldn't know stuff like when you're running this inside route, this dig route, you're falling up field and you're not supposed to do that, little things like that help you out a whole lot in any league but especially this one because they're so fast and so good on their reads that the little things count, and I've picked all that up since I've been in the league.
Q: There's a lot of Texas guys, lot of Florida guys, lot of California guys in the locker room. Do the Texas guys kind of hang together a little more or have a state pride thing?
Ford: No, everything's better in Texas, don't get me wrong. Our team ain't like that. I feel like everybody's cool with everybody, and I feel like the way we hang out would be less state-wise and more position-wise. I'm probably cooler with my tight ends than I would be with the defensive backs — nothing against them, they're my boys too, but you spend more time with your position group.
Q: Do you have any pre-game habits or rituals?
Ford: Not really. I like to listen to a little, I don't want to call it Gospel music because Gospel music puts out a different term, but a Christian music like Kirk Franklin cause it's more upbeat but is still sending the same message, so I try to listen to that before the game to clear my mind.
Q: How long has your faith been important to you?
Ford: Coming from the South, they call it the Bible belt, so I've kind of always been brought up in it and it was really important to me when I was younger, but it's something that I went through my teenage years living my life or whatever, but it's something I'm trying to get back on like I was when I was younger.
Q: What goals do you have for the rest of the season?
Ford: Win. That's the number one goal. I want to do whatever it takes to win. It doesn't matter if I don't have a catch and the receivers have 30 catches.