With the league’s first cut down day coming on Monday, Friday’s preseason game against tge Chargers will be important for many players trying to make the Vikings.

Coach Leslie Frazier said starters will play the first half and the opening series of the second half, so players deep in the depth chart will have little time to make an impression.

“For the guys who are on the bubble," Frazier said, "for the 75 as well as the 53 man roster -- when they get their turn, it’s so important they show that they deserve to be a part of the next week’s team."

Frazier said coaches will put a lot of weight into what happens when the backups get into the game in the second half on Friday. 

Simpson returns kicks just for kicks: WR Jerome Simpson’s reps have begun to decrease as he will be suspended for the first three games of the regular. But earlier this week, he was seen catching punts and kickoffs during special team drills. Coach Frazier was asked if the team was looking at him there.

“No, no, no. That’s something he wanted to do,” said Frazier. “I guess he’s done it in the past. But no, we’re not looking at him being our punt returner or kickoff returner. (But) the more you can do, it doesn’t hurt anything.”

Returns on the actual returners: Regarding punt returners the team is looking at, Frazier said that CB Marcus Sherels, who handled the duties last season, is still the front-runner at the position. “Right now, Marcus would probably be our opening day guy if we were at that point (of the decision),” said Frazier. “But we’ve still got guys fighting for that position. We’re going to work Josh Robinson back there. We’re going to get Stephen Burton a chance as well. Bryan Walters will get a chance. We’re still evaluating it, but Marcus is still ahead of the rest of the guys right now.”

Defense returning to form: DE Jared Allen has been around long enough to remember when the Vikings defensive line was the gold standard in the NFL. He bristled a little when asked if he thinks the unit is closing the gap on the other defenses in the NFC North.

“We used to be the top of the NFC North. I was on those teams,” said Allen. “I feel like we fell off, and we’re just trying to get back to where we were. I’m not trying to close the gap. I still feel like we set the standard years ago and there are enough of us who were on those defenses, and that’s the standard we’re trying to get back.

Sanford not done: Safeties Harrison Smith and Mistral Raymond played the entire first against the Bills, and it appeared earlier in the week that they would both start against the Chargers. After Wednesday’s practice, coach Frazier left the door open for S Jamarca Sanford getting one more shot at a starting job.
“He’s had a great camp and he has busted his tail just to compete and fight for a job," Frazier said. "We want to give him another shot. We still want to keep Harrison in there--and Jamarca may end up starting it off on Friday night.”

Injury update: Frazier said several players will not play in Friday’s preseason game against the Chargers. OL Bridger Buche (knee inflammation), TE John Carlson (sprained MCL), CB Chris Cook (concussion), DT Letroy Guion (sprained PCL), Kamar Jorden (broken hand) and Geoff Schwartz (sports hernia) are all out. S Robert Blanton (hamstring), Larry Dean (shoulder), Solomon Elimimian (hamstring) and OL DeMarcus Love (shoulder) are still on the bubble.

Frazier said that Cook has one more test to pass to be cleared for action under the concussion protocol and that Guion had aggravated his injured right knee and would be rested Friday.

For more Vikings news and notes, follow Joe Oberle on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLMIN.