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Craig: Predicting the final 53-man roster

  • Blog Post by: Mark Craig
  • September 1, 2011 - 9:41 AM

In today's paper, I took a stab at predicting the final 53 players the Vikings will keep when Saturday's cutdown deadline arrives.

Although no major surprises are expected (of course, when is a surprise expected, eh?), there are some interesting choices that lie ahead for the Vikings. And that's not even counting the fact that the roster shuffling could continue beyond the deadline as the Vikings and other teams scramble to try and sign some of the 864 players that will be whacked. (Keep in mind, however, the Vikings are tighter against the salary cap than any other team in the league).

With three specialists on the roster, which side of the ball do you give 26 players and which side do you give 24? I gave the defense the extra two players because of the uncertainty and depth issues at cornerback and linebacker.

Do you go with five receivers and nine offensive linemen? Or six receivers and eight offensive linemen? The difference could mean saying good-bye to Chris DeGeare or Jaymar Johnson.

Do you go without a fullback and keep an extra tight end that can double as a fullback? The Vikings have two inexperienced fullbacks, which is one reason they put in a claim today for former Lions FB Jerome Felton, according to ESPN. Felton was awarded to the Panthers.

Do you keep veteran TE Jeff Dugan or eye-catching rookie Allen Reisner? Do you keep veteran safety Eric Frampton or promising rookie Mistral Raymond? Or do you keep veterans and put guys like Reisner and Raymond on the practice squad?

Do you keep five corners and give up on injured Asher Allen? Or do you keep six corners and carry Allen for as long as it takes his toe to heal? And if you keep six corners, you probably have to keep only four safeties.

At linebacker, is veteran Heath Farwell, a former undrafted rookie who climbed his way to a Pro Bowl as a special teamer, in danger of losing his job to this year's surprise underdog, Larry Dean, a linebacker/special teamer who was last year's D-II Defensive Player of the Year.

These are just some of the questions one faces when trying to pick the Purple's final 53. Here's one attempt:

QUARTERBACK (3)

Starter: Donovan McNabb. Backups: Joe Webb, Christian Ponder.

Comment: McNabb looks comfortable, Webb is a playmaker who can be used a variety of ways and Ponder has no pressure on him. So far, so good.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Starters: LT Charlie Johnson, LG Steve Hutchinson, C John Sullivan, RG Anthony Herrera, RT Phil Loadholt. Backups: G/T Ryan Cook, C Jon Cooper, LT Patrick Brown, G/T Chris DeGeare.

On the bubble: T DeMarcus Love, LG Seth Olsen.

Comment: Love, a sixth-round draft pick, will either sneak onto the active roster or make the practice squad. The Vikings like him at left tackle, but played him at No. 2 right tackle last Saturday.

WIDE RECEIVER (5)

Starters: Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Michael Jenkins. Backups: Greg Camarillo, Devin Aromashodu.

On the bubble: Emmanuel Arceneaux, Jaymar Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias.

Comment: Camarillo’s $1.55 million salary could open the door for one of the bubble guys. Coach Leslie Frazier said early in camp the team would keep five receivers. Making that last cut could be tough.

 

TIGHT END (4)

Starter: Visanthe Shiancoe. Backups: Kyle Rudolph, Jim Kleinsasser, Jeff Dugan.

On the bubble: Allen Reisner.

Comment: Reisner could bump the veteran Dugan from the roster, but the practice squad seems more logical for the undrafted rookie who has turned a lot of heads this summer.

 

RUNNING BACK (3)

Starter: Adrian Peterson. Backups: Toby Gerhart, Lorenzo Booker.

On the bubble: Tristan Davis, Caleb King, Alexander Robinson.

Comment: The Vikings are expecting Booker’s back to be ready for the season. But if it’s not, do they keep one of the bubble guys or go looking elsewhere? King could end up on the practice squad.

 

FULLBACK (0)

On the bubble: Ryan D’Imperio, Matt Asiata.

Comment: With versatile tight ends that can play fullback, it seems logical to go that route than keep one of two raw fullbacks on the roster.

 

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

Starters: LDE Brian Robison, DT Kevin Williams, NT Remi Ayodele, RDE Jared Allen. Backups: LB/DE Everson Griffen, DL Christian Ballard, DT Letroy Guion, DE Adrian Awasom, DT Fred Evans.

On the bubble: DT Tremaine Johnson, DE D’Aundre Reed.

Comment: Griffen is counted here because he just started his switch to outside linebacker. It’s a long shot that it sticks. Reed, a seventh-round draft pick, is likely heading to the practice squad.

 

LINEBACKER (7)

Starters: MLB E.J. Henderson, SLB Chad Greenway, WLB Erin Henderson. Backups: David Herron, Heath Farwell, Larry Dean, Kenny Onatolu.

On the bubble: Ross Homan.

Comment: A dangerously-thin position got weaker when Jasper Brinkley had hip surgery this week. He’s probably heading to injured reserve, opening a roster spot for undrafted rookie Dean or sixth-rounder Homan.

 

CORNERBACK (6)

Starters: Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin. Backups: Chris Cook, Marcus Sherels, Asher Allen, Brandon Burton. On the bubble: Cord Parks, Devon Torrence, Tony Carter.

Comment: Another thin position that’s weaker because Allen probably has to be kept on the roster despite a toe injury. Torrence’s quad injury probably cost him a roster spot, but he’s a likely practice-squad candidate.

 

SAFETY (4)

Starters: FS Husain Abdullah, SS Jamarca Stanford. Backups: Tyrell Johnson, Eric Frampton.

On the bubble: Mistral Raymond.

Comment: The team says Sanford and Johnson are still fighting for starting SS spot. Raymond, a rookie sixth-round pick, could beat out Frampton, but it’s more logical move is Raymond to the practice squad.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

K Ryan Longwell, P Chris Kluwe, LS Cullen Loeffler

Comment: Ho-hum. There’s a reason these three have been rock solid together since 2006.

 

 

 

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