With two pre-season football games in, the Minnesota Vikings have two losses, but maybe they have more answers than questions in terms of what their final 53 man roster will be. The starters are pretty much set, barring any stunning developments or injuries, so it's come down to who will fill out the bottom of the roster and make the final cut at this point.
There was one thing that GM Rick Spielman said while he was in the broadcast booth during the pre-season opener against Houston that's stuck with me, and I believe to be true--the Vikings are probably going to have the toughest decisions in terms of roster cuts in several years. The starters are set, and the two and three deep guys all have talent.
So which guys make it, and which don't? Compare from week one, which you can read right here.
In the barn: Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, MacLeod Bethel - Thompson
On the bubble: James Vandenberg.
Notes: No change from last week. MBT looked pretty good out there, and James Vandenberg didn't play. If the Vikes keep three guys, these are set in stone. KFAN's Paul Allen surmised something interesting on Twitter today, though. And since he's the Vikings play by play guy, it warrants discussion. He tweeted:
#Vikings thoughts: is Bobby Felder pushing Marcus Sherels for roster spot and if they keep Joe Webb does that mean Baltazar is out? #Passion— Paul Allen (@PAKFANVikes) August 18, 2013
We'll get to Felder/Sherels in a bit, but let's talk about the QB situation. Is it realistic to think that the Vikings could keep Joe Webb as a receiver, use him as a #3 emergency quarterback, and only keep two QB's on the roster? I tweeted back something fairly close to being smart ass-ish (NO TED I DON'T BELIEVE YOU), but it's a fascinating thought.
Personally, I don't think Webb is one of the five best receivers in camp right now, but could his versatility as a WR and potential emergency QB allow the Vikings to only keep two QB's and then add an extra lineman or DB? Sure, it's possible. I don't see it happening right now, though, because although Webb is versatile, he's bad as both a WR and a QB. I get versatility if the guy is an asset, but do you want to keep a guy that sucks at two positions?
In the barn: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart
On the bubble: Matt Asiata, Bradley Randle, Joe Banyard, Leodis Williams
Notes: Last week I felt that the job was still Asiata's, but after two games, I'm not so sure. Being an incumbent has its advantages, but now I'm thinking Banyard might have pulled at least even with Randle--and Asiata, if you're not one to give a vet the benefit of the doubt. Banyard played a good game against Buffalo, Randle didn't, and like last week, Asiata was just 'meh'.
In the barn: Jerome Felton
On the bubble: Zach Line
Notes: Line has had a good camp, but I saw him play almost exclusively at the FB spot last night. He caught another pass, delivered a crushing lead block that sprung Banyard on his 38 yard run...but if he isn't competing at RB, he's not going to beat out Felton. He might be a prime candidate for the practice squad, but he might not make it through waivers.
In the barn: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison
On the bubble: Chase Ford, Colin Anderson
Notes: No changes from last week. I still think this is a three man race with Ford and Anderson on the outside looking in.
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'm thinking more and more Burton is in. Yes, he has yet to show anything in the two plus years he's been on the team, but he's the 'best of the rest', as it were, and he had a kickoff return called back because of a penalty. Both Smith and Summers had okay games, and Smith had a nice TD grab, but at this point I'm thinking those guys are playing for a spot on the practice squad, not the active roster. However, with Jarius Wright out with a concussion, it might open the door for someone to make one last push. That's a long shot, but it's situations like this where careers are born.
In the barn: Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Joe Berger
On the bubble: Seth Olson, Kevin Murphy, Jeff Baca, Brandon Keith, DeMarcus Love, Tyler Holmes, Camden Wentz, Travis Bond, Troy Kropog
Notes: I'm not sure Bond or Love are going to make the team, but they're getting a lot of playing time (24 snaps each Friday) and the Vikings are giving them every opportunity. Based on that, combined with the uniquely bad play of guys like Murphy and Kropog, I'm thinking that right now they're the last two if the Vikings keep eight guys, but there's still a lot of flexibility and a lot can happen between now and cutdown day.
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, Chase Baker, Anthony McCloud, George Johnson, Collins Ukwu (geshundheit).
Notes: No change from last week. If the Vikings keep eight linemen, add Ballard. And eight is a definite possibility, but I find it difficult to talk myself into the Vikings only keeping three defensive ends if they keep eight linemen, so maybe subtract Ballard and add Johnson. Maybe.
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: For the second week in a row I thought both Mauti and Hodges played well, and I think they're close to being in the barn. MacKenzie and Keglar seem done for, which leaves Cole. Cole played with the second team, and wasn't bad...but I have a feeling if it comes down to Mauti or Cole, the Vikings pick Mauti.
In the barn: Chris Cook, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Jamarca Sanford, Harrison Smith
On the bubble: Marcus Sherels, Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton, A.J. Jefferson, Jacob Lacey, Andrew Sendejo, Brandan Bishop, Brandon Burton, Darius Eubanks, Bobby Felder, Roderick Williams, Greg McCoy
Notes: Raymond is still leading Sendejo and Blanton, I would think, for the backup safety gig, but I don't think it's 100% over, either. Two of those three probably make it, leaving only one DB spot left, the dime cover guy. And Bobby Felder seems to have played his way ahead of Sherels in that role. Both Felder and Sherels leave a lot to be desired as a dime guy, but he has at least shown an ability to make a play on a ball, just not consistently. Sherels is consistently bad, and the only thing that was keeping him on the roster was his special teams play. Yet Felder looked competent as a punt returner Friday, so he may have passed Sherels there, too.
There is only one game left before the first cut down date on the 27th, and the starters will play into the third quarter. This makes the third pre-season game the last chance for a lot of guys, but for 15 guys, the journey is almost at an end.