This picture is not relevant to the article, but I wanted to point out that a Texan is clearly copping a feel from a member of Minnesota's third string. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Well, we're headed into the first week of football, exciting as always and full of uncertainty.
QB: Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
RB: Adrian Peterson*, Toby Gerhart, Matt Asiata
FB: Jerome Felton
SE: (Jerome Simpson), Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu
FL: Percy Harvin, Stephen Burton, Jarius Wright*
TE: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson*, Rhett Ellison, Allen Reisner
LT: Matt Kalil
LG: Charlie Johnson
C: John Sullivan, Joe Berger
RG: Brandon Fusco, Geoff Schwartz*
RT: Phil Loadholt, Mark Asper
LDE: Brian Robison, D'Aundre Reed
DT: Kevin Williams, Christian Ballard
NT: Letroy Guion, Fred Evans
RDE: Jared Allen, Everson Griffen
SLB: Chad Greenway, Larry Dean
MLB: Jasper Brinkley, Tyrone McKenzie, Audie Cole
WLB: Erin Henderson, Marvin Mitchell*
LCB: Antoine Winfield, Brandon Burton, Marcus Sherels
SS: Harrison Smith, Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Sendejo*
FS: Mistral Raymond*, Robert Blanton
RCB: Chris Cook, Josh Robinson, A.J. Jefferson
The website lists Sanford, Smith and Sendejo as free safeties (with Raymond and Blanton as strong safeties), and also lists Sanford as the starter, but I've decided not to believe them and have fixed it myself.
Mark Asper is presumable the backup to the right tackle (where I penciled him in), but can play guard or tackle. He's better as a guard, so there is a good chance that Charlie Johnson would fill in for the missing tackle and Berger would be the first backup to play on the line.
A.J. Jefferson needs a little bit of time to learn the system; the Cardinals didn't run many zone cover concepts, so Jefferson will need to be brought up to speed before he climbs up the depth chart.
Some thoughts on the depth chart below the jump
On nickel plays, it seems as if Winfield will cover the slot corner while Robinson covers the outside man. Brinkley will leave the field. On many nickel snaps, expect Griffen, Ballard or Reed to line up inside of Allen and Robinson for a pass-rushing package. In the 3-3-5 package, Griffen to play as a rover.
Winfield is on a "pitch count" so will not see the field as often as the other starters. Again, expect Robinson to play instead of Burton when Winfield is off the gridiron.
We don't actually know if Mistral Raymond will start opposite Smith. Or rather, we know that Raymond will start, but the Vikings refuse to say. There's a concern over back spasms, but he's returned to practice as well.
Marvin Mitchell has been missing practices with an ankle injury, as has Sendejo. The Vikings can only take 46 players with them on game day, so I doubt either of them suit up.
On offense it looks like Jenkins is the go-to split end while Simpson is gone, although the Vikings have made clear that Burton can play either split end or flanker.
John Carlson returned to practice, so there's a chance he starts on Sunday. Same with Adrian Peterson, although the level of uncertainty surrounding Peterson is much higher. If he plays, it will be in a brace. He's still "getting up to speed."
Geoff Schwartz feels ready to suit up on Sunday, but the Vikings are playing that one close to their vest as well, and waiting for practice to reveal more.
Further, no decision has been made on whether or not Harvin is the primary kickoff returner on Sunday, either. It might depend on the status of Sherels' sprained ankle (the fourth player to miss practice due to an ankle sprain), in which case it seems to be between Harvin, Robinson and AJ Jefferson.
Jarius Wright has missed practice with an ankle sprain as well, so he might not be on the roster on Sunday, although it seems unlikely that the Vikings will hold him out. It depends on Sherels' recovery along with Wright's progress. This complicates the punt return situation as Sherels and Wright are the immediate punt returners, and it could shake out that Robinson and Jefferson try their hand at punts as well.
And there's your depth chart update as the season starts.