Friday night the Vikings open the 2012 preseason against the San Francisco 49ers. Here are five under-the-radar players who will be worth keeping an eye on after the starters come out.
1. Kerry Taylor
The 2011 practice squad contributor has been getting a suspiciously high number of looks with the 1st and 2nd team. This could just be the Vikings scrambling to make sense of their wide receiver situation, which got even more muddled after Greg Childs’ injury, or it could mean they really like Taylor a lot. The initial depth chart lists him fourth at “Z” receiver after Percy Harvin, Stephen Burton and Jarius Wright, but again, it’s an initial depth chart and therefore pretty much worthless. With Childs out, Michael Jenkins getting old and Devin Aromashodu being Devin Aromashodu, there’s a chance for someone like Taylor to rise up and snatch a spot.
2. Jordan Todman
He’s fighting through an ankle problem right now but he was at practice Monday and it looks like he’ll play Friday. The Vikes will get a good look at their 3rd, 4th and 5th running backs with Adrian Peterson on active/PUP and Toby Gerhart figuring to get very limited action if he plays at all. The #3 RB spot would seem to be a dogfight between Lex Hilliard and Todman, with Derrick Coleman on the outside looking in. Todman probably has more value as a change-of-pace back but Hilliard has him in grittiness and experience.
3. Reggie Jones
Sorting out the secondary will be a tough task right up until opening day. Thanks to Josh Robinson’s early camp injury and Antoine Winfield being on a pitch count, the Vikings have gotten a good look at second-tier guys like Reggie Jones, who by all accounts has made the most of the opportunity.
4. Allen Reisner
Reisner’s been on people’s radar screens ever since Visanthe Shiancoe declared him to be the real deal. With John Carlson’s injury, Reisner now has a chance to validate that opinion. For what it’s worth, he’s currently ahead of Mickey Shuler on the depth chart.
5. Chris DeGeare
The initial depth chart lists DeGeare as the back-up to Charlie Johnson at left guard but he’s still in the mix at right guard too. Brandon Fusco is the presumptive starter but Leslie Frazier has made it clear that Fusco doesn’t yet have the job locked up. Joe Berger is still supposedly in the mix at right guard as well but he has the most value as a back-up center/guard. I still think Fusco will likely win the RG job but I wouldn’t be shocked if DeGeare comes on and steals it.