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For other uses, see Joe Berger (disambiguation).

Joseph David Berger (/ˈbɜːrər/ BUR-jər; born May 25, 1982) is an American football guard for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Michigan Tech. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round, 207th overall of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Berger has also played for the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.

Early years

Berger attended Newaygo High School in Newaygo, Michigan. As a senior, he was the team captain of his team, an All-Western Waterways Activities Conference selection, and an Academic All-State honorable mention. During his two-year varsity football career, he played offensive lineman, and as a defensive linebacker, he posted 238 tackles and one interception.

College career

Berger was a walk-on college football player at Michigan Tech, where he started 28 games at right tackle. He was a four-time Academic All-GLIAC selection, a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District pick, and a two-time All-American pick as a right tackle. He also played in the Cactus Bowl and the NCAA Division II All-Star game.

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 5 in 303 lb 5.20 s 1.86 s 3.04 s 4.62 s 7.77 s 27 in 8 ft 0 in 30 reps
All values from NFL Combine[1]

Carolina Panthers

Berger was selected by the Carolina Panthers with their second of two sixth-round draft choices in the sixth round (207th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft, becoming one of only three football players to be drafted from Michigan Tech and the first since 1987 when the Giants selected quarterback Dave Walter in the 11th round (307th overall). The other Michigan Tech draftee, running back Jim VanWagner, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round (183rd overall) of the 1977 NFL Draft. Berger was waived on September 3 and was signed to the practice squad a day later, never playing in a regular-season game with the team.

First stint with Dolphins

Berger with the Dolphins

On September 7, he was picked up by the Miami Dolphins from the Panthers practice squad before the start of the 2005 NFL season and played in each of the final three games. A sprained right foot suffered in training camp kept him inactive during the 2006 season. He was waived on November 23, 2006. The next year, Berger spent time with the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys after being claimed off waivers from Miami on November 24. He was inactive for all 16 games during the season, 11 games with Miami and 5 with Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys

Shortly after his release from the Dolphins in 2006, Berger was claimed off waivers by the Dallas Cowboys, but was inactive for the rest of the season (5 games). He was active for 3 games in 2007, but only played in the 4th quarter of the season finale in place of Leonard Davis at right guard. In 2008, he played on special teams during the first 3 games of the season and was declared inactive for the final 11. During his time with the Cowboys, the team had a strong offensive line and Berger had a difficult time competing for playing time.

Second stint with Dolphins

After becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2009, Berger signed with the Miami Dolphins, reuniting with former Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells, who was the team's Executive Vice President of Football Operations.[2] Although he was signed as a backup player, due to his ability to play multiple offensive line positions, he beat out Jake Grove for the starting center position,[3] playing in 31 out of 32 games over the next two seasons, starting 20 of them.[4] He was released on September 5, 2011, before the start of the regular season, after the team signed Ryan Cook.

Minnesota Vikings

Berger signed with the Minnesota Vikings on September 12, 2011, the day after the regular-season opener.[5] On March 12, 2013, Berger re-signed with the Vikings on a one-year deal.[6] Entering 2016, Berger Has appeared in 115 career games with 54 starts, with 34 of those starts coming with the Vikings.

2011 season

Berger spent training camp and preseason with the Miami Dolphins and was acquired by the Vikings on September 12, 2011, the day after the regular-season opener at San Diego. In his first season as a Viking, Berger played in 13 games, starting 7 at center, right guard and left guard during the season. He saw extended action at Chicago in week 6, replacing injured starter John Sullivan at center in the 2nd half. He then started a 4-game span at right guard in place of starter Anthony Herrera, with the first of the 4 games coming at Carolina on October 30. He started his first game of the season at center against the Green Bay Packers in week 7, the first start of rookie quarterback Christian Ponder’s career. He started in the final 2 games of season at left guard in place of starter Steve Hutchinson.

2012 season

In 2012, Berger played in all 16 games. He was primarily used on special teams, where he was a regular on a kickoff return unit that ranked among the NFL leaders in return average and was tied for 3rd in the NFL with 6 returns of 40 yards or more on the season. He saw his first career playoff action in the NFC Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers on January 5, 2013.

2013 season

Berger with the Vikings

In 2013, Berger appeared in all 16 games, starting 2, contributing on special teams and providing depth along the offensive line. He started at left guard and right guard in place of injured starters Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco against Washington and Philadelphia. He played a vital role on a kickoff return unit that helped rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson set team records for return yards (1,393), return average (32.4) and return touchdowns (2).

2014 season

On March 12, 2014, the Vikings re-signed Berger to a one-year contract.[7] Beger appeared in all 16 games and started the final 9 games at right guard after starter Brandon Fusco was placed on IR, with the team going 5-4 in his starts and with Berger playing a key role in protecting Teddy Bridgewater on his way to the most productive season by a rookie quarterback in team history. On October 19, 2014, Berger came into a game against the Buffalo Bills after starting center John Sullivan suffered a concussion; he blocked for rookie running back Jerick McKinnon’s 103-rushing yard effort against one of the NFL’s best run defenses and allowed no sacks and recorded a tackle. Berger finished the season having played in 61 consecutive games.

2015 season

In August 2015, starting center John Sullivan suffered a season-ending back injury and was placed on injured reserve.[8] Berger was named as the Vikings starting center and started every game for the 2015 season, helping Adrian Peterson run for a league-leading 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns. For his performance, Berger was named the league’s best run blocker by Pro Football Focus (PFF).[9] After 11 years in the league, this was Berger's first NFL season starting all 16 games. On January 6, 2016, Berger was rated 26.8 by Pro Football Focus (PFF), the highest among all centers in the NFL for the season.[10] Over the final half of the regular season, Berger earned an above-average grade of +1.0 or higher in every game, including a peak of +5.3 against a stout Oakland Raiders defensive line in week 10. He was also the most consistent center as he had the lowest percentage of negatively-graded run blocks at the position.

2016 season

During summer’s Training Camp, Berger won his battle against veteran John Sullivan to be the Vikings’ starting center. On September 9, 2016, the team announced that Berger signed a one-year contract extension.[11]

Personal life

Berger graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Tech in 2005. He married his wife, Abigail, in 2004.[12] They have three children.

References

  1. ^ http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=53342&draftyear=2005&genpos=ot
  2. ^ Halprin, Dave (February 27, 2009). "Cowboys made offer to Kevin Burnett, Joe Berger signs with Miami". SB Nation. Retrieved 2016-01-26. 
  3. ^ Brian Biggane (2010-09-09). "Dolphins' coach Tony Sparano: Joe Berger was just better". Palm Beach Post. Archived from the original on 2010-09-11. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  4. ^ Joe Berger/Miami Dolphins, archived from the original on 2011-09-05, retrieved 2013-05-30 
  5. ^ "Vikings waive backup center Cooper, sign veteran Berger". NFL.com. September 13, 2011. Retrieved 2016-01-26. 
  6. ^ Free Agency: Vikings Re-Sign Backup Lineman Joe Berger To 1-Year Deal
  7. ^ Wilkening, Mike (March 12, 2014). "Vikings bring back Joe Berger". NBCSports.com. Retrieved 2014-06-14. 
  8. ^ Gates, Christopher (September 10, 2015). "John Sullivan Injury: Yeah, This Is Bad". dailynorseman.com. Daily Norseman. Retrieved January 6, 2016. 
  9. ^ Claassen, Matt (January 14, 2016). "PFF's Best Run Blocker Award". profootballfocus.com. Pro Football Focus. Retrieved January 19, 2016. 
  10. ^ Peters, Craig (January 6, 2016). "PFF's Highest Graded Center? Joe Berger". vikings.com. Minnesota Vikings. Retrieved January 6, 2016. 
  11. ^ Vikings Sign Joe Berger To One-Year Extension
  12. ^ "Tech Grad Berger Now Making the Grade in the NFL". Michigan Tech Magazine. December 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 

External links