Over the next few days I’m going to take a look at some under-the-radar Vikings players who could be a factor as we proceed through training camp and into preseason. Don’t sleep on these guys as you put together your 53-man roster projections.
First guy I want to zero in on is cornerback Bobby Felder. The whole defensive backfield is obviously in flux this year with all the moves that have been made. Antoine Winfield is gone; draft pick Xavier Rhodes is in the mix as a probable starter; and Jacob Lacey was signed to compete at nickelback but he suffered a thumb injury and might not be a factor.
So how does Bobby Felder fit into this crowded picture? Why does this guy suddenly have a shot? It’s all thanks to Jacob Lacey and his thumb. Lacey suffered a dislocation during OTAs and had to undergo surgery. With Lacey down, Felder was plugged in with the second team at slot corner (behind Josh Robinson who right now pencils in as the #1 slot corner). And by all accounts Felder acquitted himself well.
Part of Felder’s push toward winning a roster spot is a new commitment to conditioning. Former beat writer Tom Pelissero wrote about this last month. Felder was beefy at one time but he’s put himself on a diet and is now at an ideal size. At 5-11, 190 he certainly looks the part of a slot corner. The Vikes want guys who have the quickness to stay with inside receivers but also have the ability to be physical at the line.
Right now you have to give Felder a good shot to win a job. Figure Chris Cook and Xavier Rhodes as the starters. Josh Robinson as the #1 slot guy and A.J. Jefferson as the first backup on the outside. Who knows about Lacey with the injury. Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels look like serious bubble cases right now. Sherels of course has the punt return experience but the Vikings seem willing to look at other men in that role.
Bobby Felder? Keep an eye on him as we zoom toward the preseason opener.