MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 24: The defense for the San Diego Chargers defense lines up against the offense of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter on August 24, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Chargers defeated the Vikings 12-10. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The Vikings have released 15 players as per the 75-man limit deadline approaching Monday.
Not a lot of surprises here. The cuts:
G Bridger Buche
RB Derrick Coleman
G Grant Cook
LB Solomon Elimimian
DB Corey Gatewood
OT Levi Horn
DT Anthony Jacobs
WR Kamar Jorden
WR AJ Love
LB Tyler Nielsen
DE Ernest Owusu
DT Tydreke Powell
DB Chris Stroud
WR Kerry Taylor
WR Bryan Walters
Below the jump is a more in-depth analysis of the roster and what the cuts mean, starting with the offense.
Quarterback remains unchanged, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson is looking more and more like a practice squad candidate.
Tight end remains unchanged as well, and the most intriguing battle is still between Allen Reisner and Mickey Shuler—Reisner did very well in the game on Friday, and could be ahead of Shuler in that capacity. Same with fullback, although Asiata is making a name for himself.
Derrick Coleman's cut is to be expected, although some people may have expected the cut to come later. He is an easily replaced running back, that doesn't offer much more than any replacement back. Given where the Vikings are in terms of the running back depth, Coleman's cut was inevitable and sooner is better than later for him.
Levi Horn couldn't beat out Tyler Holmes and Kevin Murphy for a job, so cutting him was an easy choice. Bridger Buche and Grant Cook were the most recently signed Vikings, and no one expected them to push for a spot.
Incidentally, expect Holmes, Murphy and Pasztor all out of a job come the cut to 53.
The wide receiver cuts are the most interesting offensive developments. Some may have expected Brian Walters or Kerry Taylor (a punt returner and a field stretcher, respectively) to stay on the roster for a bit longer, but I suspect the Vikings just want to give the other receivers a longer look so they know how to settle the depth chart. Aromashodu finally made an impact on Friday, so the Vikings may want to wait longer before seeing whether or not Arceneaux can really challenge for the third spot.
I think Kerry Taylor may be called back for a practice squad spot if he clears waivers.
Jenkins should once again hold on to the second split end spot, but Burton could do a better job than him here. Without depth at flanker, Burton is the second flanker instead of the second split end, but that may not be how things end up playing out on the field.
QB: Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Sage Rosenfels, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
TE: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison, Allen Reisner, Mickey Shuler
RB: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Lex Hilliard, Jordan Todman
FB: Jerome Felton, Matt Asiata, Ryan D'Imperio
LT: Matt Kalil, DeMarcus Love, Kevin Murphy
LG: Charlie Johnson, Chris DeGeare, Tyler Holmes
C: John Sullivan, Joe Berger
RG: Brandon Fusco, Geoff Schwartz
RT: Phil Loadhold, Patrick Brown
WR1: Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Emmanuel Arceneaux
WR2: Percy Harvin, Stephen Burton, Jarius Wright
On defense, the most interesting development is at cornerback—that is, it's interesting that there are no real cuts. No one expected Chris Stroud or Corey Gatewood to make the roster. I stand by my statement that Gatewood was the worst player on the roster, although the earlier cut and then resigning of A.J. Love might have meant the Vikings thought differently, but everything I saw of Gatewood was bad.
That leaves nine cornerbacks fighting for possibly six spots. Sherels is still very likely the best punt returner (although Jarius Wright did well in that capacity against the Chargers) and so may be guaranteed a spot. As it stands, Reggie Jones did well for himself, as did Robinson. Carr did not, and is at risk at losing his place not just on the depth chart, but perhaps on the roster altogether.
The Vikings have not announced or revealed a depth chart change at cornerback yet, however, so Carr remains the third corner and the CB who will take the field in nickel situations.
At safety, there weren't any cuts. Not just because the players lower on the depth chart did better for themselves (they did), but because the injuries on Friday struck the safety position pretty hard. None of them long term, but if they had cut any safeties, they wouldn't have anyone to practice with on Monday. Also, they still don't have many people to practice with on Monday.
There were two cuts at linebacker, one of which might be intriguing. Fans were excited by Solomon Elimimian, who has quite the highlight reel. Elimimian's slight hamstring issues made it easier to cut him, and potentially easier to sign him onto the practice squad if need be. Tyler Nielsen didn't impress much, but is a sure tackler. Perhaps he can find his way onto another team's practice squad, although I doubt he makes it for the Vikings.
If Elimimian is not signed by a team within 10 days, his CFL contract activates, and he is once again a member of the Canadian Football League. With Nielson gone, there's a missing strongside linebacker on the depth chart.
Audie Cole might be moving up as a middle linebacker, but Tyrone McKenzie has been doing quite well with the second team, so it will be difficult to for him to guarantee himself a spot. Larry Dean's shoulder issues might encourage the Vikings to cut Dean, move McKenzie over to the Sam position and keep Audie as the first backup at Mike.
Rookies and free agents on the defensive line were up against a stacked deck. Not just with strong starters, but with a deep line. Ernest Owusu looked alright in practice, but was up against Griffen, Reed, Reed and Charleston and honestly would not have been able to beat them out. He might get a look on another team.
On the other hand, Tydreke Powell was simply slow and exhibited poor technique. He as thoroughly unimpressive in practice, but did have a few good moments in one game. While his practice performance was worse, I still did expect Chase Baker to get cut first. Baker had the largest signing bonus of the UDFAs, so the Vikings may just like him more.
Historically, many of the defensive ends that the Vikings have drafted or signed play a year or two at defensive tackle as a pass rusher in passing downs, and that's what seventh-round pick Trevor Guyton will be doing.
Anthony Jacobs, signed from the University of Minnesota, didn't impress much in practice either, so the native Minnesotan will need to find employment elsewhere.
At nose tackle, no interesting developments. Guion is still slated to start, although Fred Evans has been doing well in his absence. For perspective, Evans has played most of his impressive snaps against backups, but the Vikings still aren't too worried at this position for next year. This isn't to say it's not a need position for offseason acquisition, but they'll stand pat for now, it seems.
LCB: Antoine Winfield, Brandon Burton, Marcus Sherels, Reggie Jones
RCB: Chris Cook, Chris Carr, Josh Robinson, Zackary Bowman, Bobby Felder
SS: Harrison Smith, Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Senejo
FS: Mistral Raymond, Eric Frampton, Robert Blanton
SLB: Chad Greenway, Larry Dean
MLB: Jasper Brinkley, Tyrone McKenzie, Audi Cole
WLB: Erin Henderson, Marvin Mitchell, Corey Paredes
LDE: Brian Robison, D'Aundre Reed
RDE: Jared Allen, Everson Griffen, Nick Reed, Jeff Charleston
DT: Kevin Williams, Christian Ballard, Trevor Guyton
NT: Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Chase Baker.