As Lito Sheppard prepares to suit up in purple after a failed season with the Jets, the former Pro Bowler thinks he’s the same guy that he once was in Philly.
“The only thing that has changed between then and me now is some bad
situations,” Sheppard recently said, per Tom Pelissero of 1500espn.com. “That can affect a player. That affected me,
as far as being comfortable and knowing what my role is on the team.
“I feel very comfortable here,” Sheppard said regarding his offseason preparations with the Vikings, “and the coaches told me what it was
from the beginning, and I think that’s going to allow me to definitely
get that mentality back and show it.”
Not everyone agrees. “He’s not the player he used to be,” an unnamed AFC scout told Pelissero. “You’re also not talking about a player who’s 33, 34 years old either. I
don’t think he’s at the back end of his career — I just don’t think
he’s got the same fastball that he used to.”
Still, for the Vikings to be where they were in 2009, Sheppard needs only to be as good as Cedric Griffin was a year ago. Given that Griffin tore an ACL on the opening kickoff of overtime in the NFC title game, Sheppard likely will be in better shape than Griffin to contribute when the Vikes return to the Superdome for a rematch with the Saints.