Welcome to the NFL. Happy Labor Day. Now get to work.
The Vikings return to Winter Park this morning after three days off. Since they last gathered for the 28-0 preseason finale victory over the Texans, they've cut from 80 to 53 players, put a middle linebacker (Jasper Brinkley) on IR, released three linebackers (Heath Farwell, Ross Homan and David Herron) and signed a linebacker (Xavier Adibi) that started against them on Thursday night. And, oh yeah, Kevin Williams found out he'll be suspended for the first two games.
It should be a short, non-padded practice when the team takes the field at 11 a.m. today. Here are some of the question marks we're looking at heading into Sunday's regular-season opener at San Diego:
. New starters at left tackle, quarterback, flanker, defensive tackle, nose tackle, left defensive end and weak-side linebacker.
. The team still hasn't announced a starter at strong safety.
. Two players, CB Cedric Griffin and RG Anthony Herrera, haven't played full games since tearing ACLs. Griffin, of course, has torn both over the past two years.
. Weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson has never started an NFL game.
. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury. Both backup running backs -- Toby Gerhart (Achilles'/ankle) and Lorenzo Booker (back) -- are nicked up, although coach Leslie Frazier said everyone should be ready to practice this week.
. Depth at offensive line, linebacker and secondary.
Don't misunderstand. Pointing out question marks isn't meant to imply that an area is hopelessly lost or that the answer to that question won't turn out on the positive side. These are just areas that we'll all be watching closely.
For instance, as good as Pat Williams was for most of his Vikings' career, I'll still take Remi Ayodele at 28 over Big Pat at 38 and coming off a subpar year. I also think Donovan McNabb has looked surprisingly comfortable. And all eyes will be on LT Charlie Johnson, but let's face it, it's not like Bryant McKinnie was on top of his game the past couple seasons.
It's not the worst thing in the world that the Vikings head into a season picked to finish last in their division because of so many question marks.
After all, last year's team went into the season picked to win the Super Bowl because the perception was it had no question marks.