I was reading this article of the press conference coach Frazier gave today, and I think he may have inadvertently hinted at some major depth chart developments with the answers he gave, at least on the offensive side of the ball. With Greg Child's unfortunate injury, the available options are certainly less for us at wide receiver. So, read on as I break down the press conference after the jump.
With the injury to Geoff Schwartz, it's pretty much a given that the line will be: Kalil - Johnson - Sullivan - Fusco - Loadholt. Check out these comments from Frazier:
We’re not quite ready to say that Brandon is the guy opening up against Jacksonville; we want to see him in some game situations against other teams in the preseason and then make a declaration as we go. We’ll continue to have some competition at that position.
Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but to me, this reads as "Fusco is the guy, but we're gonna make him earn it." Sure, Berger and DeGeare will get some reps and compete with Fusco, but unless Fusco royally screws up in the Pre-Season, to me, it would appear that the job is his to lose.
Now that Greg Childs is out, there are limited options for us at wide receiver after Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson. I've said all along that Aromashodu would be "the guy" during the first 3 weeks of the season with Simpson out, and I think Frazier has confirmed my suspicions and then some:
With Devin, I think he’s much, much improved. One of the things we wanted to see out of Devin was improved route running and showing that he can make those hard catches on a consistent basis. With his length and his speed we like some of the things he’s able to do, and he’s beginning to show that more and more at practice.
Q: Jerome Simpson is out for three games, how limited are you going to be in the passing game?
A: Well some of it depends on how well and how improved Devin is, along with some of the guys we have at the receiver position.
So, it would appear that Devin Aromashodu has a very good chance to make the team, and it sounds like Frazier likes what he sees there. Along with The DA (coined by Ted), I think Michael Jenkins also has a spot on the team. Like Fusco, barring a complete breakdown in the preseason, the spot is his to lose:
For Michael (Jenkins) it’s a wonderful opportunity, he’s the veteran of the group and we rely a lot on his experience. He and Christian had developed a rapport prior to his injury a season ago, and we are going to need that presence along with his size, to make that difficult catch even when he’s covered. So we have to see him come along physically and these preseason games will be a part of that.
And for all the hype surrounding Stephen Burton, Frazier gave him a rather tepid evaluation. Check out his comments:
Stephen is coming along. He missed those early days with his toe, but we’re seeing some progress. There’s still some things based on what we saw in the scrimmage on Saturday night that he needs to continue to work on. But, he’s coming along, he’s at a good pace for us. He showed some things in the OTA’s. He showed some things in the limited time he got a season ago that he has the potential to be a factor in our offense. We’re hoping that he’ll keep coming, both on special teams as well as wide receiver. He’s shown some kick return ability and he showed the ability to make the hard catch.
Based on these comments I would be very surprised if the starting wide receivers for the 2012 Vikings wasn't: Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins, Jarius Wright, and Devin Aromashodu. Stephen Burton's only shot to make the team IMO, will be during the first 3 weeks of the season when Simpson is out.
Maybe I'm reading way too much into this comment, but does this sound like Adrian Peterson will start the season on PUP to you? It does to me:
Q: How’s Toby looking?
A: He’s been looking well. He’s practicing well, has great confidence in what we’re doing, what we’re asking of him. He doesn’t seem like a guy who is ready to settle for being a backup running back, which is a good thing. He’s preparing himself as if he is going to have to start against Jacksonville, which is the way we want to see it happen. He’s practicing the right way, so we’ll see how it goes.
I know all about Peterson's declaration to be ready week 1, but I'm not so sure. Also, the competition for the #3 running back job may be Jordan Todman's to lose. He needs to get healthy and back into the competition:
Q: Are you short at halfback?
A: Depending on if Jordan (Todman) is not able to go, we don’t know that yet, but we still want to be able to see Lex (Hilliard) run, we still want to be there to take a look at Derrick (Coleman), we have some options. We want to see Matt Asiata take some carries, D’Imperio, he’s a full back. We’d like to have Jordan out there but we’ll see.
So, if Todman is healthy and can prove his worth in pre-season games, I think the depth chart could end up being Gerhardt - Hilliard - Todman, with Peterson on PUP. When Peterson returns, they'll have a tough decision on their hands, but I bet Hilliard is the casualty. There weren't too many other positions commented on in depth from this press conference, but my eyebrows sure raised at some of these, and I wanted to highlight them here. What do you all think?