In reviewing the Vikings 27-13 loss to Houston, it was apparent that the Vikings roster has had a serious talent infusion at the top of the depth chart, but the third and fourth string guys are, well, third and fourth string.
As a result, there really aren't a lot of spots that are up for grabs, but it's fascinating to me how the bottom of the roster is playing out.
Let's look at some guys on the bubble:
In the barn: Christian Ponder, Matt Cassell, Macleod Bethel - Thompson
Bubble has burst: James Vandenberg.
Notes: There is no bubble here, so let's just get it over with. Barring a miracle or an injury, Vandenberg doesn't have a prayer. Even if there's and injury, my guess is the Vikings would pick someone up after the first round of cuts have been made.
In the barn: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart
On the bubble: Matt Asiata, Bradley Randle, Joe Banyard, Leodis Williams
Notes: If you are inclined to be in the camp that says "it's the vet's job to lose", then Asiata is your guy. He's done nothing to lose his job, but Bradley Randle flashed some serious potential on Friday. Had good vision and ran with authority when he got the ball (3 carries, 16 yards), and was very solid when he stayed home as a blocker during passing situations. Banyard and Williams are really on the outside looking in right now, and it would seem they have too much of an uphill climb at this point.
In the barn: Jerome Felton
On the bubble: Zack Line
Notes: Okay, Line is officially listed as a fullback, but he was used as a HB on Friday. He had the Vikings only touchdown, a stand up and cheer 61 yard catch and run that was all Line's 'want to' about the last 15 yards or so. Line isn't going to usurp Felton, but he's turning heads as a possible HB, so let's keep an eye on him and Randle as they snap at Asiata's heels.
In the barn: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison
On the bubble: Chase Ford, Colin Anderson
Notes: Ford saw more action than Ellison on Friday (8 snaps to 16 snaps), but I have yet to read or see anything that tells me he's done enough to beat out Ellison. Ellison is only a second year guy, knows the offense, and played okay while Carlson was out last year. As for Anderson, I think the writing is on the wall.
In the barn: Jerome Simpson, Greg Jennings, Cordarelle Patterson, Jarius Wright
On the bubble: Stephen Burton, Joe Webb, Adam Thielen, LaMark Brown, Erik Highsmith, Rodney Smith, Chris Summers
Notes: I think this is the biggest battle in training camp, and will come down to the wire, assuming the Vikings only keep five receivers. If you made me pick the number five guy today, I think I'd go with Webb over Burton, but barely. Burton had a nice catch and run on Friday, but I would argue Webb's 3rd quarter catch was more impressive. He had to correct back from a poorly thrown ball from Thompson, and made a very nice adjustment for an eight yard gain and a first down. Adam Thielen has been making noise in training camp, and is probably number seven, but after that, there hasn't been anyone that has stepped up to win a spot.
Well, what about Greg Childs? He's on the PUP, and not counted against the roster right now, so not much. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go on IR again, let him heal, and come back and compete next year. But that said, he was the best WR in camp last year behind Percy Harvin, and if he's healthy, I wouldn't be surprised to see him thrown in the mix. Let's face it, would I take a healthy Childs over Burton and Webb? Yes, yes I would.
In the barn: Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Joe Berger, Seth Olson
On the bubble: Kevin Murphy, Jeff Baca, Brandon Keith, DeMarcus Love, Tyler Holmes, Camden Wentz, Travis Bond, Troy Kropog
Notes: there's still a lot of fluidity at the bottom of this list, but I think the first seven guys are safe. One guy that got a lot of playing time on Friday and really hurt himself was Bond. He played on 91% of the Vikings' offensive snaps, and he was, to put it kindly, underwhelming. DeMarcus Love is a guy that's been really disappointing to me. He was a healthy scratch in every game his rookie season, then he went on IR last year, NOW he's been suspended for the first four games for violating the policy on PED's, and to top it off, didn't look good on Friday while seeing less playing time than Keith and Murphy. I'm thinking his time as a Viking is coming to an end, but that's just me.
In the barn: Brian Robison, Kevin Williams, Jared Allen, Shariff Floyd, Everson Griffen, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion
On the bubble: Christian Ballard, Everett Dawkins, D'Aundre Reed, Lawrence Jackson, Marquise Jackson,
Tito Jackson, Chase Baker, Anthony McCloud, George Johsnon. Collins Ukwu (geshundheit).
Notes: If I had my way, My four tackles would be Williams, Floyd and His Tragically Short Arms, Ballard, and Evans. but that gives your three under tackles, and one NT. That won't fly, but I don't like Guion over those guys, either. So that probably means Guion is in and Ballard, more than likely, is out. But, the Vikings could, conceivably, keep Guion, Evans, Floyd, Williams, and Ballard, and just go with three ends. Ballard hasn't played poorly, but let's face it, if it comes down to him or the first round pick, Floyd obviously stays.
In the barn: Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Desmond Bishop, Marvin Mitchell, Larry Dean
On the bubble: Audie Cole, Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges, Tyrone MacKenzie, Stanford Kegler
Notes: Personally, I think the Vikings keep seven, and they'll be Greenway, Henderson, Bishop, Mauti, Hodges, Mitchell, and either Dean or Cole. It's hard for me to be impartial here, as I am on the Mauti and Hodges bandwagon, butt hey both looked good on Friday night, especially Mauti.
In the barn: Chris Cook, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Jamarca Sanford, Harrison Smith
On the bubble: Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton, A.J. Jefferson, Jacob Lacey, Andrew Sendejo, Brandan Bishop, Brandon Burton, Darius Eubanks, Bobby Felder, Roderick Williams, Greg McCoy
Notes: So, let's break down the corners first. Cook/Rhodes/Robinson are mortal locks at this point. That leaves the dime back, and right now, I'll be honest, I don't know. No one has stood out, at least to me, and this race is wide open. Neither Jefferson or Lacey suited up, and Marcus Sherels just doesn't look like an NFL caliber player. So, there's really no one leading for that final spot, and what happens Friday against Buffalo will be very interesting. But if you put a gun to my head and make me choose, I go with Jefferson over Sherels.
At safety, Raymond is ahead of Blanton right now, but Sendejo played well in spurts on Friday, and I'd put him above Blanton, too. Still, unless he can make an impact on special teams, I don't think he'll make the team with the off-season infusion of talent.
Although most of the roster spots have been accounted for, there are still a few spots that are wide open, especially at wide receiver and the defensive backfield. We got some answers last Friday, and we'll gt a lot more this Friday.
Stay tuned, won't you?