Greg Camarillo (Scott Cunningham/Getty)
Greg Camarillo had his entire life rooted in Miami, and in a trade between the Dolphins and Vikings it all had to be uprooted. Camarillo is now adjusting to his new surroundings – new town, new bosses, new teammates.
When the Vikings traded cornerback Benny Sapp to the Dolphins in exchange for Greg Camarillo, both players were surprised. They didn’t see the trade coming and both were uprooted from a team in which they felt they had a spot carved out for themselves – Sapp in the Vikings secondary and Camarillo in the Miami receiver corps.
On Sunday, the Vikings and Camarillo will meet Sapp and the Dolphins. Camarillo felt like something of the odd man out when it came to the Vikings opener against New Orleans. His teammates were looking for a measure of revenge against the team that kept them from advancing to the Super Bowl. This week, it’s Camarillo with something to prove.
“What more could you ask for?” Camarillo said of the matchup. “From the minute I got traded, I’ve been thinking about this. It’s Week 2, so it’s early. It’s great. Last week how the whole team felt about the Saints and wanting to get their second swing at them, that’s how I feel about the Dolphins. It’s all my friends. (There is) no ill-will toward the team, but I want to come out there and kick their ass.”
While the trade forced Camarillo to move from South Beach to the Great White North, he said he hasn’t been able to completely cut his ties to Miami. His life remains down in Florida while he is in Minnesota seeking his professional goals.
“That is home – well, was home,” Camarillo said. “I felt like the community embraced me. I did some good work in the community there and really enjoyed it. My fiancée is there. My house is there. My dog is there. Most of my clothes are there. So that is home. If someone asks me where home is, I’d tell them Florida.”
Camarillo’s transition to the Vikings hasn’t been an easy one. He had to learn new terminology, carve out his own niche in the offense and basically start over with his career. As a result, he was slow to catch up during the final week of preseason and was on the field for just seven snaps against the Saints. When asked if he was surprised about his lack of playing time, Camarillo said is was pretty much as expected.
Not really (surprised),” Camarillo said of his cameo appearance in Week 1. “In the preseason you can pick up the offense really easy because it’s just a vanilla, basic offense. Once you start getting into the season, you start getting more complex. That made it a little more difficult. I didn’t do as well in practice. I didn’t know what to expect going into that game, but it wasn’t unexpected.”
Camarillo said that he anticipates seeing a lot more action this week because he knows the Dolphins defense like the back of his hand. While the Vikings and the other teams in the NFC North only play Miami once every four years, Camarillo worked out against the Dolphins defensive backs every day in practice.
“I had a million reps against each one of them,” Camarillo said. “They’ll say the same for me. They don’t need to study tape of me. They know exactly what I’m going to do and I know exactly what they’re going to do. It’s just friends playing football. If you can’t get hyped for that, I don’t know what you get hyped for.”
Not only will Camarillo likely see more action on the field, he is also expected to be pulled aside by the coaching staff to provide a little insight on the strengths and weaknesses of the Dolphins defensive players. He will be like an assistant coach at times as they put their game plan together and give away some of the Dolphins’ trade secrets – both offensively and defensively.
“I can give them everything I know as far as tendencies and what formations they usually do,” Camarillo said. “But Coach (offensive coordinator Dan) Henning is smart enough to know he’s got to mix it up. They can’t just come out here and run a base offense, because I’ve seen that. But they’re smart enough to know. They’ll mix it up. They’re not going to come out and say, ‘Hey, Greg knows this. We’re going to run it anyway.’”
Camarillo said he hasn’t had much time to reminisce with his old friends. He’s still trying to grasp the Vikings playbook and his responsibilities in it. It’s a work in progress, but he said he’s feeling better about it all the time.
“It’s getting there,” Camarillo said. “Every day I’m trying to learn more and pick up more and my goal is, by the end of the practice week, to know everything in and out.”
Camarillo will have mixed emotions when he meets up with the Dolphins. He spent three years assimilating into the city, the organization and with his teammates. He said what is past is prologue and, while he has many happy memories of his time in Miami, he has a new home now – even if it is still a temporary apartment situation.
“I’ve got a place to stay,” Camarillo said. “My address is Eden Prairie, Minnesota, so it’s starting to feel like home.”
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.