Kyle did a good job encapsulating the Sidney Rice situation yesterday, and I thought I'd touch on the WR position a little bit more in depth today.
We can go back and forth on whether or not the Vikings did the right thing or the wrong thing in letting Sidney Rice leave for Seattle, but the bottom line in all of that is that the Vikings wide receiver corps will look substantially different than they did last year.
We've talked a bit about the receivers, but there's some injury news that might affect the final makeup of this group, so I'd like to drill down a little bit more and see how this might affect who makes the Vikings final roster.
I think it's safe to assume the top three receiver positions are set, something we all pretty much collectively figured out once Bernard Berrian re-structured his deal and got the ringing endorsement from Coach Frazier. The Vikings went out and signed Michael Jenkins, and he's been practicing with the first team from the day he signed, and awesome Percy Harvin is awesome.
But who's the number four guy? The number five guy? Will there be a sixth WR on the team, or will the Vikings only keep five? A couple weeks ago, I assumed that Greg Camarillo was probably a lock for the #4 slot. He's essentially a league average receiver, but he has great hands and was used as a punt returner for a good part of last season. He came from Miami with the reputation as a great possesion receiver, and although he wouldn't make any big plays, he'd make those over the middle, third and 10 catches that move the chains. That said, he never really got into a groove last year, and didn't seem to find a comfort zone until late last year.
But one of the reasons the Vikings had to go get a WR last season, other than Sidney Rice getting hurt, was because of injuries to Jaymar Johnson. Johnson was put on injured reserve during the pre-season, and after a brief appearance as a punt returner in 2009, he looked like he was making a move up the depth chart last year before he got hurt. I persoanlly like Johnson a lot. In my brief time in Mankato, he really stood out among the flotsam and jetsam that was the mess of bodies competing for one of those wide receiver slots, and seems to be having a good a camp as anyone competing for one of the final spots.
And even though the Vikings were quick to sign Jenkins and get him into the first team offense, he wasn't the first WR signed by the Vikings in free agency. That award goes to Devon Aromashodu, who was the first free agent signed by the Vikings. Aromoshadu is intriguing, but he was a guy I expected to see really improve when the Bears traded for Jay Cutler, and he actually regressed. Still, Aromashodu is tall and fast, and has had his moments in pre-season so far. He made a couple of nice catches against the Titans, and he's right in the mix.
Emmanuel Arcenaux and Stephen Burton are guys that seem to be on the outside looking in at this point, but a lot can happen between now and final cutdown day. If you're a fringe guy, you need to make noise, like Jaymar Johnson has, and I just haven't seen enough that makes me think they will make the final 53. As a matter of fact, Burton really struggled early in Mankato, and that, along with sheer numbers, might have sealed his fate already. Arcenaux made a nice catch that was called back against Tennessee, but I don't know if that's enough.
So assuming Berrian, Jenkins, and Harvin are all safe, and assuming the Vikings only keep 5, which is what they've done the last few years, who are the final two guys? Two days ago, I would've bet a paycheck that Camarillo nailed down the #4 slot. But Camarillo is hurt, and injuries in training camp, especially for hotly contested roster spots, can really hurt a guy.
So does Camarillo's injury open the door for somebody? Unless it's serious, I still think Cammy gets the nod, so now we're one spot left for two guys, Johnson and Aromashodu. Aromashodu has an advantage because he's a veteran, and a guy that the Vikings went out and wanted to sign. They saw something in him, and liked him enough to offer a contract to.
But Johnson is a guy that everyone seems to rave about, from his hands, to his explosiveness and body control, to his deep threat ability. He's also a guy the Vikings like, as it would have been easy to just give him an injury release after he hurt his knee, similar to what the Vikes did with Albert Young last year. But they didn't, because they saw something in him they liked. And Johnson has seized the moment and made the most of it, and it's hard to ignore a guy who's battled back from injury and is making the most of every opportunity.
If you make me choose, I'm going Harvin, Berrian, Jenkins, Camarillo, Johnson, with Aromoshadu on the outside looking in.. But the train waits for no one, and if I were Greg Camarillo, I'd be trying to get back on the field the second I can, because with Johnson and Aromashodu nipping at his heels, I can see a scenario where he could be left at the station.