By Jon Merckle
Please realize folks this is nothing more than a shot in the dark. None of us know what’s going on inside the heads of Brad Childress or Rick Spielman right now. What is known though is that key player decisions must be made. I will go into slight detail on why some guys are in and others are out. Those that are considered locks will not have much written about, as we all know what colors the likes of Adrian Peterson or Kevin Williams will be wearing in 2010. But who’s backing them up is up for debate. Let’s get it started…
Locks: Jared Allen, Ray Edwards, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams
Fit Um For Purple: Jayme Mitchell, Jimmy Kennedy, Letroy Guion, Brian Robison, Everson Griffin
Working Elsewhere: Fred Evans, Mike Montgomery, Tremaine Johnson
As Tyler Durden would say, “To make an omelet you have to break some eggs.” I understand that Fred Evans would start at DT for several teams in this league and has done an excellent job when Pat Williams sits. Still he’s 4 years older than Letroy Guion (just turned 23 and has looked solid in preseason) and Jimmy Kennedy has salvaged a once lost career working with Leslie Frazier. Tremaine Johnson went to LSU and was on our practice squad last year and that’s really about I know of him.
The DE backups are straightforward. Jayme Mitchell has looked dominant playing against second team offensive lines. Brian Robison is rock solid too. Everson Griffen has shown nothing in camp and in preseason, but Vikes will want to keep him around to play on Special Teams considering he had a 1st round grade a few months ago and slid to us in the 4th. Packers let Mike Montgomery walk and our line is simply better than theirs.
Locks: Chad Greenway, EJ Henderson, Ben Leber
Fit Um For Purple: Heath Farwell, Jasper Brinkley, Kenny Onatolu, Erin Henderson
Practice Squad: Nate Triplett
Already Working Elsewhere: J Leman
Expect 8 LBs to make it. Jasper Brinkley showed promise last year as a rookie stepping in for an injured EJ. Heath Farwell, Kenny Onatolu and Erin Henderson also offer value on Special Teams. Have to admit that I went back-and-forth with Erin Henderson, however believe he makes the team being EJ’s brother and Vikes will also want to keep him around if Ben Leber walks after 2010. Nate Triplett hopefully slips through waivers to make it on practice squad. J Leman was cut last week.
Locks: Antoine Winfield, Chris Cook, Cedric Griffin, Tyrell Johnson, Madieu Williams, Jamarca Sanford
Fit Um For Purple: Lito Sheppard, Asher Allen
Working Elsewhere: Eric Frampton, Marcus Sherels, Colt Anderson, DeAndre Wright
Not much debate here. Sheppard and Allen are all but locks. Frampton offered value on Special Teams last year, but adding Cook and Sheppard sealed his fate. Sherels is a Rochester native who may find a place on the practice squad. It also should be noted that this group is subject to immediate change more than any with Cook and Griffin availability in September in question.
Locks: Ryan Longwell, Chris Kluwe, Cullen Loeffer
Fit Um For Purple: Rhys Lloyd
Only debate here is Lloyd who makes it by the skin of his teeth. He redeemed himself in final preseason game kicking everything deep with two touchbacks.
RUNNING BACKS/FULL BACKS
Locks: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Naufahu Tahi
Fit Um For Purple: Albert Young, Darius Reynaud
Working Elsewhere: Ian Johnson
Behind Adrian this team seems content on going with a backup by committee approach. That being said, Adrian will be on the field for nearly every key 3rd down with Chester Taylor now on the Bears. Young and Gerhart will duke it out for backup duties. I expect Gerhart to have the job claimed by about week 7. Reynaud is a decent return man who we can expect to cover both kickoffs and punts this year. Johnson seems like a good kid, but is not an NFL caliber back.
Locks: Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, Greg Camarillo, Greg Lewis, Sidney Rice (who will begin year on PUP)
Fit Um For Purple: Javon Walker
Working Elsewhere: Logan Payne, Marquis Hamilton, Taye Biddle, Freddie Brown
Considering 5 guys in this group are locks there’s not much wiggle room. I gave Walker the nod over Payne considering Payne is too much like Lewis and Camarillo. Walker is more of a red zone threat, which is a need for the Vikings until Sidney Rice is back.
Locks: Visanthe Shiancoe, Jimmy Kleinsasser, Jeff Dugan
Fit Um For Purple: Garrett Mills
Practice Squad: Mickey Shuler
Not much to debate here. Dugan and Kleinsasser have been around for a while. Mills strong preseason says he makes it and has a role in Special Teams. Mickey Shuler seems to be football savvy, however is going to have to clear waivers and work with the practice squad.
Locks: Steve Hutchinson, Phil Loadholt, Bryant McKinnie, John Sullivan, Anthony Herrera, Chris DeGeare
Fit Um For Purple: Ryan Cook, Jon Cooper
Working Elsewhere: Patrick Brown, Drew Radovich, Chris Clark, Adrian Battles, Thomas Austin
That’s 8 offensive linemen being kept. DeGeare’s strong camp and preseason moves him to lock territory. Cook is not a fan favorite, but is better than most backups having experience at both center and tackle. Cooper will also make team with Sullivan’s injury and Herrera just learning the center position.
And last but definitely not least…
Locks: Brett Lorenzo Favre
Fit Um For Purple: Sage Rosenfels, Joe Webb
Working Elsewhere: Tarvaris Jackson
Count me in the camp that says Rosenfels should be our #2 QB. While Jackson does have a bazooka of an arm and can move on his feet, he struggles to pickup any complex blitz and has no precision. Last time I checked running the West Coast offense requires short accurate passes. Jackson is also the same guy who two years ago lost his job to Gus Frerotte until Gus broke his back. But what do I know? Childress is the QB guru. He says Jackson has gone thru an “evolution” in 2010. Funny because I haven’t seen it. He finished the preseason 12-26 for 60 yards. Repeat, PRESEASON when you’re oftentimes playing against a 2nd team D! Rosenfels at least looks comfortable running this offense and has somewhat of a pocket presence. Webb would also not clear waivers if he were cut. Keeping both Jackson and Webb means two QBs who are still developing on a team that’s built to win now.
So there you have it. This was much more difficult to put together than I originally thought. We here at The Viking Age are open for agreements and criticism. And while we await the 53 the Vikings keep, just know other teams are also cutting players that we may want to claim for our 53 meaning some that make it immediately become expendable. Oh… Tis the Season!