Little has changed in the Vikings roster battles from the previous weeks, other than injured players such as CB Josh Robinson returning to the practice field and making an impression in the preseason game against the Bills.
The wide receiver battle is still up in the air, and clearly the coaches are trying to determine who is worth keeping and who to let go.
QB -- In: (3) Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Sage Rosenfels. Out: McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Analysis: Ponder looked strong in his second preseason game, going 10 of 13 for 136 yards and 135.4 rating. He's led the team to scoring position in all five of his drives during the preseason. Webb has made his name on the ground, rushing twice for 64 yards. He needs better command of the offense, however. Rosenfels was serviceable in the fourth quarter and his position appears to remain solid. Bethel-Thompson did not play but should on Friday.
RB -- In: (4) Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Jerome Felton (FB), Lex Hilliard. Out: Derrick Coleman, Jordan Todman,Ryan D'Imperio (FB), Matt Asiata (FB). Analysis: With the news that Peterson won’t see action during the preseason, there is plenty of opportunity for the remaining running backs to make an impression in the last two games. FB Jerome Felton scored the first TD of the season for Minnesota by catching a 1-yard pass from Ponder on the opening drive against the Bills. Jordan Todman missed the game due to his ankle injury (and may be running out of time). Matt Asiata got a long look at fullback, carrying the ball seven times for 43 yards.
WR -- In: (6) Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton, Jarius Wright. Out: Emmanuel Arceneaux, Kerry Taylor, Bryan Walters, Kamar Jorden. Analysis: The battle for backup wide receivers begins with the news that the nine-year veteran Jenkins restructured his contract (taking a significant pay cut), and then followed it with a turn-back-the-clock leaping catch over a defender against the Bills. Burton made two catches and Arceneaux caught 2 for 50 yards, including one for 48 yards. On the downside was Aromashodu, who was targeted six times and came up with zero catches. OC Bill Musgrave said they will continue to give him opportunities.
TE -- In: (4) Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison, Allen Reisner. Out: Mickey Shuler. Analysis: Reisner and Shuler each looked sharp in the Bills game with Reisner grabbing 2 passes for 22 yards and Shuler 1 for 14. Rudolph left the game early with what was treated as a concussion, providing plenty of time for the backups. Ellison continues to impress (1 reception for 8 yards) and will surely stick. With Carlson still out, Shuler will get another game to show what he can do -- and he will need the opportunity.
OL -- In (8): Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Geoff Schwartz, Joe Berger,DeMarcus Love. Out: Chris DeGeare, Patrick Brown, Levi Horn, Austin Pasztor, Bridger Buche, Grant Cook, Quentin Saulsberry, Tyler Holmes, Kevin Murphy. Analysis: Another good report for the first team against Buffalo, although the coaches won’t come out and say that Fusco has sewn up the right guard spot. Despite Fusco playing well against the Bills’ 4-3 defense, the coaches want to see him in more situations. Love has returned to action from his shoulder injury, and Frazier said they want to determine what spot on the line suits him best.
DL -- In (8): Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Brian Robison, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, D'Aundre Reed, Christian Ballard,Everson Griffen. Out: Trevor Guyton, Nick Reed, Jeff Charleston, Chase Baker, Tydreke Powell, Anthony Jacobs, Ernest Owusu. Analysis: The return of Griffen to the defensive line changes things up. He should make the team due to his versatility. Guion (strained PCL) returned to practice on Monday but appeared to re-injure the knee on Tuesday. He will likely miss Friday’s preseason game, giving Evans a chance to play with the first string. If Guion misses extended time, suddenly Guyton’s stock goes up.
LB -- In (6): Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson, Marvin Mitchell, Audie Cole, Larry Dean. Out: Tyrone McKenzie, Corey Paredes, Solomon Elimimian, Tyler Nielsen. Analysis: With Griffen moving back to the defensive line, Elimimian has picked a bad time to pull a hamstring. He looks doubtful for Friday against the Chargers, but could use the opportunity. Cole’s two pick-six performance against the Bills may have solidified his roster spot in a unit that is still trying to determine its depth.
DB – In (11): Chris Cook, Antoine Winfield, Josh Robinson, Mistral Raymond, Harrison Smith, Jamarca Sanford, Chris Carr, Brandon Burton, Robert Blanton, Zack Bowman, Eric Frampton. Out: Marcus Sherels, Andrew Sendejo, Bobby Felder, Chris Stroud, Reggie Jones, Corey Gatewood. Analysis: The first string got jumbled as Robinson returned from an injured hamstring and made several good plays at cornerback against Buffalo. Cook left the game with a concussion and won’t play this Friday. The two kick-returner positions will determine how this unit shakes out. Sherels has looked good in practice returning punts, but Robinson can return punts as well and could push Sherels out.
Special teams -- In (3): K Blair Walsh, P/H Chris Kluwe, LS Cullen Loeffler. Out: Nobody. Analysis: All three have come to camp with no competition (unless DE Jared Allen decides he wants to try his hand again at long snapping). So far, the decision to cut K Ryan Longwell and draft Walsh has been a good one.
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