Aug 16, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer talks to players against the Arizona Cardinals at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings won 30-28. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Week 3: Minnesota Vikings 53-Man Roster Projection

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Taking a somewhat tentative stab at a 53-man roster projection for the Vikings coming off Saturday’s nailbiter against the Cardinals.

QB (3):

Matt Cassel
Teddy Bridgewater
Christian Ponder

I still think the Vikings will keep Ponder. Much as we enjoy hammering him, it is useful to have a second veteran in the mix in the event that something happens to Matt Cassel. The Vikings shouldn’t be forced by circumstance to throw Teddy Bridgewater in before he’s ready and keeping Ponder gives them insurance against that possibility. Something tells me though if Mike Zimmer had his way Ponder would be gone. Keeping three QBs limits your flexibility in other areas.

RB/FB (4):

Adrian Peterson
Jerome Felton
Matt Asiata
Jerick McKinnon

Joe Banyard is gaining steam as a fan favorite after his long run late in the Cardinals game but Matt Asiata simply gives you more value as a third down back/short yardage option. Jerome Felton sticks by virtue of his blocking prowess even though he gives you little else. The argument for dumping Felton: Asiata and Rhett Ellison can both play some fullback so you cut Felton and keep another TE.

TE (3):

Kyle Rudolph
Rhett Ellison
Allen Reisner

The Chase Ford injury leaves the Vikings in a bit of a bind. Ford is working his way back but it looks iffy that he will be ready for the season. Starting the year on PUP is a possibility for Ford. We haven’t seen a whole lot from the back end of the tight end corps, so I’m guessing the Vikes default to the semi-familiar quantity in Reisner. He does have that TD catch from Bridgewater in his back pocket.

OL (9):

Matt Kalil
Charlie Johnson
John Sullivan
Brandon Fusco
Phil Loadholt
Joe Berger
David Yankey
Vlad Ducasse
Kevin Murphy

The Vikings still lack a real swing tackle but you can’t have everything. Tiny Richardson is a guy I think they’ll try to sneak onto the practice squad.

WR (5):

Cordarrelle Patterson
Greg Jennings
Jerome Simpson
Jarius Wright
Adam Thielen

Simpson will likely be suspended to start the year so pencil in Rodney Smith as a keep at least through the first few weeks. Adam Thielen could end up as your #3 receiver before it’s over. Jarius Wright has been so quiet in preseason. He has an annoying tendency to disappear unless he’s playing against Richard Sherman.

DL (8):

Everson Griffen
Brian Robison
Linval Joseph
Sharrif Floyd
Fred Evans
Tom Johnson
Corey Wootton
Scott Crichton

The Vikes will have some tough choices to make along their defensive line. Shamar Stephen has made some noise but I think he ends up on the practice squad. Isame Faciane is another guy who has shown up in flashes who will get a PS gig. Justin Trattou still has an outside chance after a strong game vs. Arizona.

LB (7):

Anthony Barr
Chad Greenway
Jasper Brinkley
Audie Cole
Gerald Hodges
Brandon Watts
Michael Mauti

Unfortunately I think we’ve come to the end of the road for Larry Dean. It was a nice run. Gerald Hodges has a knee injury but I don’t think that affects his status unless he’s so hurt he isn’t ready to start the season.

CB (6):

Captain Munnerlyn
Xavier Rhodes
Derek Cox
Marcus Sherels
Shaun Prater
Jabari Price

Health issues have thrown this whole situation into disarray. Josh Robinson is in Mike Zimmer’s doghouse because his hamstring won’t heal. Shaun Prater and Jabari Price both came out of the Arizona game with dings. This is a very very tentative guess, but I’m keeping these six and dumping Robinson. I get that you never want to give up on a third-round pick but at the same time, Zimmer is trying to establish a culture and cutting a player like Robinson, who seemed safe going into camp, would send a strong message about what the coach expects. If Robinson has been slacking, he needs to go.

S (5):

Harrison Smith
Chris Crocker
Kurt Coleman
Andrew Sendejo
Antone Exum

This is where a surprise cut may come. In order to keep Antone Exum, a young player with a lot of upside who might not make it through waivers and onto the practice squad, the Vikings could very well dump Jamarca Sanford. Mistral Raymond I think has been a dead man walking since the start of camp. Robert Blanton still has an outside shot but right now I have him as a cut. Another possibility – and we’ll have a better feel for this after preseason game 3 – is that Chris Crocker is just done and doesn’t make the team.

K/P/LS (3):

Blair Walsh
Jeff Locke
Cullen Loeffler

No discussion needed here. Although, Blair Walsh has been a little shaky on long kicks. What gives, Blair? I thought you were MONEY.

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