06 Dec Austin Shepherd: The Forgotten Man
In May of 2015, the Minnesota Vikings selected Austin Shepherd in the 7th round of the NFL Draft with little fanfare. Described by Mark Dulgerian as “a fighter who won with effort against SEC opponents”; Shepherd was widely viewed as a tough, hard-nosed football player coming out of college. He may not have been the most talented offensive lineman in the draft but he was a smart technician with a solid work ethic.
Considering his high character off the field (his efforts to cure sarcoma cancer through The Austin Shepherd Foundation for example) I was on board with this draft pick, to say the least. And last season Shepherd managed to make the 53-man active roster and even earned some snaps as an extra blocker in goal-line situations.
Entering 2016 training camp, I personally considered Shepherd a dark horse candidate to win the starting right tackle spot. I would have at least kept him as a back-up. In a previous article I certainly had him in my final 53. Shepherd was cut instead. Not only that but he was one of the very first players the team waived. I still can’t figure out the rationale for that move.
Now let’s fast forward through the first 12 weeks of the season to our current point in time. Our offensive line has been ravaged with injuries. Their play on the field has been anemic. Austin Shepherd has bounced around the league a bit, but is currently back on our practice squad. I can’t help but wonder why he has been passed up for a 53-man promotion in lieu of guys like Rashod Hill and Willie Beavers. Can he possibly be any worse than our current offensive linemen? That’s a scary thought and I have trouble truly believing that’s the case.
I must say, it’s about time Austin Shepherd gets another shot on the active roster. Our O-Line needs all the help it can get right now.
– The Hammer