The Minnesota Vikings haven't started making their cuts yet (as some other teams have), but they need to have the roster trimmed to 53 in a little more than 24 hours (3 PM Central time on Saturday). So, even though we've had a couple of 53-man roster predictions to this point, let's take one more shot at it now that the entire pre-season is in the books. Starters are denoted with an asterisk.
Honestly, I thought Teddy Bridgewater did enough to win the starting job. . .however, Matt Cassel didn't do enough to lose it, and since he was the favorite going in, he stays at the top. My guess is that Bridgewater starts sooner rather than later. Oh, and Christian Ponder makes the squad. Sorry.
Running backs (3)
You know, I really, really want to keep Joe Banyard on this roster instead of Asiata. But I don't think the Vikings see things the same way that I do. So, Asiata will continue to serve as the backup to the NFL's best running back. McKinnon will probably see plenty of time as the third down back.
Making the team: Jerome Felton*
Getting cut: Zach Line
There's only room for one fullback on this roster. . .and if Norv Turner wants a guy that can plant defenders as his fullback, Felton gets the nod over Line. I do think Line would be an ideal practice squad candidate, though.
Wide receivers (5)
With Simpson's suspension, both Thielen and Smith make the roster. It will be interesting to see if the two young guys can make enough of an impression over the next few weeks to make Simpson expendable, or if one of them will get cut once Simpson is ready to make his return.
Tight ends (3)
It's really a shame that Ford was injured for most of the pre-season, because I think he would have been able to make the squad here. But, as Mike Zimmer himself said, "You can't make the club in the tub." Ford's absence was Reisner's gain, as the former Iowa product had an outstanding pre-season. I think that's enough to get him on the team.
Offensive Line (9)
Making the team: Matt Kalil*, Charlie Johnson*, John Sullivan*, Brandon Fusco*, Phil Loadholt*, David Yankey, Joe Berger, Antonio Richardson, Jeff Baca
Getting cut: Vlad Ducasse, Austin Wentworth, Mike Remmers
This might seem like a lot of offensive linemen. It probably is, but with the way things look right now, this is who stays on the team. Wentworth might be a practice squad candidate. Richardson wouldn't make it to the practice squad, so he sticks, too.
Defensive Line (9)
Making the team: Everson Griffen*, Sharrif Floyd*, Linval Joseph*, Brian Robison*, Corey Wootton, Tom Johnson, Fred Evans, Shamar Stephen, Scott Crichton
Getting cut: Isame Faciane, Justin Trattou, Chase Baker
There's a whole lot of talent on this defensive line. For as much talk as what the offense did this pre-season without Adrian Peterson, the defense did what they did (for the most part) without Linval Joseph. Getting that big body back in the middle of the defensive line is going to be a huge boost for the Vikings. Stephen might be the odd man out here, but I sincerely doubt he'd make the practice squad if the Vikings cut him, so he sticks.
I'm not sure if Brinkley or Cole is going to get the starting spot in the middle. . .honestly, I'm not sure if the Vikings know at this point. But they'll both make it. Watts would be a nice add to the practice squad, I think. Not being available for the last couple of games really hurt him.
Defensive Backs (11)
Making the team: Xavier Rhodes*, Captain Munnerlyn*, Harrison Smith*, Chris Crocker*, Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, Shaun Prater, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo, Antone Exum, Kurt Coleman
Getting cut: Jamarca Sanford, Kendall James, Julian Posey
Munnerlyn will start in the base defense, and slide inside in nickel sets. Right now, I think Robinson has the edge at the nickel spot, but that could easily change. I have Crocker as the other safety at this point because nobody really distinguished themselves, and Mike Zimmer might feel the most comfortable with him next to Harrison Smith.
Making the team: Blair Walsh, Jeff Locke, Cullen Loeffler
I left the suspense until the end this time.
Best Guess Practice Squad (there's no way this is going to be accurate)
OL Austin Wentworth
LB Brandon Watts
CB Kendall James
DL Isame Faciane
RB Zach Line
DT Justin Trattou
WR Kain Colter
OT Mike Remmers
As far as the last two spots on the practice squad, they'll probably be filled by a couple of more "veteran" guys. Per the new practice squad rules, teams can now add two players that have two "accrued seasons" of experience on the practice squad. Honestly wouldn't be surprised to see one of those two be a quarterback.
So, that's what I think we're looking at for a 53-man roster for the Vikings at this point. Anyone else have anything drastically different?
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Minnesota Vikings Roster Cuts 2014: Vikings Begin Shaping The Roster