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What’s Next? Vikings Roster Shuffling May Not Be Done Yet

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 31, 2012 – 8:11 pm

The Vikings have reduced their 75-man roster to the NFL-mandated limit of 53. So it’s time to start playing games, right? Hold on a minute. While all NFL teams have declared their 53-man rosters, there is still plenty of roster shuffling to be done.

Will the Vikings be one of the teams to do a bunch of shuffling? Only time will tell. If the Vikings choose to go that route, though, they will be in good position to find discarded talent. By virtue of their 3-13 finish last season, the Vikings have third position in the NFL’s waiver process through three weeks of the regular season.

What does this mean? Remember that players who have three or fewer pension-credited seasons are subject until the trading deadline to the waiver system if they are released from their contracts. The waiver system allows teams to submit a claim on a player if he is released. For example, a player such as RB Jordan Todman will not hit the street as a free agent quite yet. He will go through the waiver process now that he’s been released by the Vikings, which means all other NFL teams have a specific amount of time to place a claim on Todman before he becomes a free agent. If no one claims Todman, he then becomes an unrestricted free agent. Multiple teams can submit a claim on one player, but there is a pecking order based on last year’s record.

The Vikings are third, so they will have a good look at every player who is released from their contract today as teams get down to the 53-man limit.

A few other notes to keep in mind…

– Just because a team released a player today does not mean they will not keep that player eventually. Using Todman as an example again, the Vikings can place Todman on their practice squad once the RB passes waivers. Teams are permitted to keep up to 8 players on their practice squad.

– Teams are permitted to make trades at this time, so don’t be surprised to see teams swap assets at this point as they try to round out their regular season rosters.

– One last note: Fans will surely notice a lot of veteran free agents on the street. Keep in mind that many of those veterans may not find work until after Week 1 of the regular season. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement guarantees veteran contracts if that veteran is on the Week 1 roster.


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Vikings Announce 53-Man Roster

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 31, 2012 – 7:15 pm

The Vikings have trimmed their roster to the NFL-mandated 53-man limit in advance of Friday’s deadline. To do so, the Vikings added one player to the Reserve/Injured list, terminated the contracts of four vested veterans and waived 16 players. Keep in mind that WR Jerome Simpson will not count against the Vikings roster limit for the first three weeks of the season due to his suspension.

Here are the transactions made by the Vikings on Friday to reach the limit.

Placed On Reserve/Injured
OT DeMarcus Love

Contract Termination – Vested Veteran
CB Chris Carr
DE Jeff Charleston
S Eric Frampton
QB Sage Rosenfels

Waived
WR Manny Arceneaux
DT Chase Baker
OG Chris DeGeare
FB Ryan D’Imperio
CB Bobby Felder
DT Trevor Guyton
RB Lex Hilliard
OG Tyler Holmes
CB Reggie Jones
OT Kevin Murphy
LB Corey Paredes
OG Austin Pasztor
DE Nick Reed
C Quentin Saulsberry
TE Mickey Shuler
RB Jordan Todman

THE FOLLOWING IS NOT AN OFFICIAL DEPTH CHART

Quarterback
Christian Ponder
Joe Webb
McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Running Back
Adrian Peterson
Toby Gerhart
Matt Asiata

Fullback
Jerome Felton

Wide Receiver
Percy Harvin
Stephen Burton
Jarius Wright

Wide Receiver
(Jerome Simpson)
Michael Jenkins
Devin Aromashodu

Tight End
Kyle Rudolph
John Carlson
Rhett Ellison
Allen Reisner

Left Tackle
Matt Kalil

Left Guard
Charlie Johnson

Center
John Sullivan
Joe Berger

Right Guard
Brandon Fusco
Geoff Schwartz

Right Tackle
Phil Loadholt
Pat Brown

Left Defensive End
Brian Robison
D’Aundre Reed

Under Tackle
Kevin Williams
Christian Ballard

Nose Tackle
Letroy Guion
Fred Evans

Right Defensive End
Jared Allen
Everson Griffen

Strongside Linebacker
Chad Greenway
Larry Dean

Middle Linebacker
Jasper Brinkley
Tyrone McKenzie
Audie Cole

Weakside Linebacker
Erin Henderson
Marvin Mitchell

Left Cornerback
Antoine Winfield
Brandon Burton
Marcus Sherels

Right Cornerback
Chris Cook
Josh Robinson
Zack Bowman

Strong Safety
Mistral Raymond
Robert Blanton

Free Safety
Jamarca Sanford
Harrison Smith
Andrew Sendejo

Punter
Chris Kluwe

Kicker
Blair Walsh

Long Snapper
Cullen Loeffler


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Five Firms Submit Bids to Design New Vikings Stadium

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 31, 2012 – 3:11 pm

Thursday’s deadline to submit design proposals for the new Vikings stadium resulted in five bids from nationally-recognized architectural and engineering firms. All five of the following firms have previous NFL stadium design experience:

AECOM (Ellerbe Beckett): Based out of Los Angeles, AECOM designed CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. The firm also oversaw the renovation of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.

Ewing Cole: Philadelphia-based Ewing Cole partnered with 360 Architecture to design MetLife Stadium, the $1.6 billion home of the New York Jets and New York Giants that opened in 2009.

HKS, Inc.: HKS has designed two of the most recent NFL stadiums – Lucas Oil Field (Indianapolis-2008) and Cowboys Stadium (Dallas-2009). In 2008, the Dallas-based firm worked with the then-Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission and the Vikings on a new stadium outline for the Metrodome site.

HNTB, Corp.: Kansas City-based HNTB designed the San Francisco 49ers new home in Santa Clara – the most recent NFL stadium currently under construction.

Populous: Formerly known as HOK Sport, Kansas City-based Populous has extensive experience with facilities in the Twin Cities, having designed Target Field, Xcel Energy Center and TCF Bank Stadium.The firm’s recent NFL stadium experience includes University of Phoenix Stadium (Arizona-2006), Gillette Stadium (New England-2002) and Reliant Stadium (Houston-2002).

Each of the five firms will have a chance to present their proposals to the Stadium Authority and the Vikings in the coming weeks. The Authority and the Vikings will be looking for creative elements that make this stadium unique to Minnesota and provide the game day experience Vikings fans deserve.

Fans will have a chance to see the firms’ previous projects next Thursday, September 6, on Mall of America Field beginning at 5:00 p.m. At this event, which is open to everyone, the public will get a chance to hear from design teams from the world’s top stadium architects.

The joint selection of a stadium architect will take place in mid-September, after which the vision of the new home for Vikings football will take shape.

We will keep you posted on the latest stadium developments, including an architect selection in the coming weeks. Thank you for your continued support, and as always, send your questions and comments to minnesotamomentum@vikings.nfl.net.


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Last Was Not Least: 7 Vikings Who Impressed During Preseason Finale

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 31, 2012 – 6:17 am

The fourth and final preseason game of 2012 is in the books, as the Vikings closed out their exhibition schedule with a tight and high-scoring 28-24 loss to the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on Thursday night. With the preseason in the rear view mirror, fans will now set their attention on Week 1 of the regular season.

But not so fast.

Before NFL teams can set their sights on their Week 1 opponent, an important preseason process must first be completed – the 53-man roster cutdown. Currently, the Vikings roster stands at 75 players, but NFL teams are required to arrive at the 53-man limit by Friday evening.

As Vikings GM Rick Spielman and Head Coach Leslie Frazier, along with their staffs, go through discussions to try and configure the right mix of players, they will consider the entire body of work a player has put together from the beginning of the offseason program in the middle April through Organized Team Activities (OTAs), minicamps, training camp and the preseason. At the same time, there’s no denying that the fourth and final preseason game has significant bearing on those decisions.

So, how did the Vikings preseason finale impact decisions Spielman, Frazier and Co. will make? Let’s take a look at seven players who helped their chances of making the 53-man roster thanks to a strong final performance in the exhibition season.

(The opinions expressed below are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of GM Rick Spielman, Head Coach Leslie Frazier or the Vikings organization.)

RB Matt Asiata
Based largely on a solid performance last week combined with a good training camp, Asiata came into Thursday’s preseason finale with a legitimate shot to make the final roster. He’s listed as and is built like a FB, but Asiata has some RB skills – nimble feet, good agility, good hands and good vision. Against the Texans, Asiata registered a 6.1 yards-per-carry average on 7 attempts. For the preseason, Asiata has 23 carries for 134 yards and 3 receptions for 15 yards with 1 TD. Is it enough to make the 53-man roster? Hard to tell, but Asiata is certainly a player who helped himself in the final preseason contest.

QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson
It’s easy to get excited about the potential of MBT. He has a big arm, looks the part, and is a good guy to have around the facility. On top of that, he’s had a good training camp and preseason. MBT has not looked overwhelmed, and in fact he led the Vikings on a drive late in Thursday’s game that resulted in him throwing into the end zone to try and steal a victory. It wasn’t to be, but MBT showed some late-game poise during the drive, and that’s fun to see from a youngster.

For the preseason, MBT’s numbers look like this: 18 of 36 for 242 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs.

CB Brandon Burton
The return of Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield after they missed 21 games combined last year along with the presence of 3rd-round pick Josh Robinson has garnered much of the attention placed on the Vikings CBs. That has allowed Burton to quietly go about his business and have a pretty good camp. He’s backed up that pretty good camp with a solid preseason as well. On Thursday night, Burton collected 3 tackles on defense and another on special teams; he took another step forward in his development. Burton has been more willing to mix it up this year during training camp, and that along with a couple of solid preseason outings might be enough to earn him a spot on the team.

LB Audie Cole
Perhaps the highlight of the entire preseason was Cole’s performance against the Buffalo Bills, when he intercepted consecutive passes from Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith and returned both for TDs. But Cole was solid before that performance and he’s been solid since that performance as well. Cole began his night on Thursday with a pair of special teams tackles, and followed it up with a good performance on defense in the 2nd half. Cole was tied for second on the team with 6 tackles and defense and he led the Vikings with 2 special teams tackles as well. Frazier mentioned Cole during his post-game press conference as a guy the team could look at for depth should Marvin Mitchell be held out of Week 1 action after spraining his ankle against the Texans.

C Quentin Saulsberry
The Vikings offense was on the field for 83 snaps on Thursday night, and in that time they racked up 562 yards of offense. The man in the middle of the offensive line for most of that time was not John Sullivan or even backup Joe Berger; it was Saulsberry, an undrafted rookie free agent who has quietly hung around during the offseason program and training camp. With Sullivan in place as the starter and Berger a quality backup, it might be ambitious to speculate Saulsberry being an option for the 53-man roster. But perhaps the Vikings think enough of Saulsberry to keep him around for practice squad consideration. His performance on Thursday night in helping the Vikings amass a large net yardage total certainly helped.

RB Jordan Todman
Most will point to his 76-yard TD run as evidence that Todman deserves consideration for the 53-man roster. It’s true that the long TD jaunt helped Todman, but the speedster also helped his cause in other ways. One play that stands out to me came in the Vikings final offensive drive when he caught a screen pass, but had little room to run. Rather than trying to squeeze out every last yard, Todman wisely decided to run horizontally to get out of bounds and stop the clock. For the game, Todman finished with 114 rushing yards and 1 TD on just 10 carries and he added 5 receptions for 21 yards as well.

An ankle injury limited Todman for most of training camp and the preseason, so the Vikings have a limited sample size with which to judge him. That might ultimately cause the team to go another direction, but what makes the decision even more difficult is Todman’s outstanding performance on Thursday evening.

WR Jarius Wright
As a 4th-round pick, Wright was likely a lock to make the roster anyway. But after Thursday night, it’s clear the rookie receiver made the roster based on his on-field performance rather than his draft stock. Before leaving the game with a sprained ankle, Wright caught 6 balls for 122 yards, including a 59-yard TD in the 3rd quarter. Wright showed some explosion and some toughness.


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Vikings Drop Preseason Finale To Houston 28-24

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 31, 2012 – 2:17 am

The Vikings racked up nearly 600 yards of total offense (562), more than doubled up the opposition in 1st downs (26-12) and held a 13-minute advantage in time of possession, but it wasn’t enough to close the exhibition season with a victory. The Houston Texans overcame those deficiencies while building statistical advantages of their own en route to a 28-24 victory on Thursday evening at Reliant Stadium.

Houston jumped out to an early lead after RB Justin Forsett capped their game-opening drive with a 3-yard TD run. The score after the 1st quarter remained 7-0 in favor of Houston, but over the next two quarters of play the points came fast and furious. Vikings rookie K Blair Walsh converted a 36-yard try to put the Vikings on the board and make the score 7-3, and then the teams traded long TDs. Texans rookie WR DeVier Posey took a quick slant and turned it into an 80-yard TD reception and only minutes later Vikings QB Sage Rosenfels stuck a pass right on the numbers of Devin Aromashodu and the speedy veteran pranced in from 58 yards to make the score 14-10 in favor of Houston heading into the locker room at halftime.

Both teams came out and scored 14 points in the 3rd quarter, with Houston scoring on 76-yard punt return TD by Trindon Holliday, his 3rd return TD of the preseason, and then later on another Forsett TD run, this one from 5 yards. The Vikings scored TDs on a 59-yard bomb from McLeod Bethel-Thompson to rookie WR Jarius Wright and a 76-yard jaunt from RB Jordan Todman. But that was the end of the scoring, as neither team could muster any points in the 4th quarter. The Vikings mounted a drive late in the game and reached the Houston 21-yardline, but they couldn’t convert a 4th down and that allowed the Texans to run out the clock.

The game was sloppy at times and riddled with mistakes and penalties, but both teams put on explosive displays as well. There were seven TDs in the game, with six of the seven coming from 58 yards or more and three coming from 76 yards or more. Vikings QBs Joe Webb, Rosenfels and Bethel-Thompson were 26 of 47 for 351 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT, while the Purple churned out 245 rushing yards and 1 TD on 30 carries.

Few starters on either side played in the game, but there was a lot on the line as backups and reserves for each team tried to put their best foot forward in the hopes of earning a roster spot. For the Vikings, several players accomplished the goal.

Todman finished tied as the game’s leading rusher with Forsett, as both backs rushed for 114 yards. Forsett had 2 TDs while Todman had 1, but Todman accomplished his work with three fewer carries. Wright, whom the Vikings selected in the 4th round last April out of Arkansas, finished with 6 receptions for 122 yards and a TD in addition to a 20-yard end-around before he left the game with a sprained ankle. Aromashodu finished with 5 receptions for 89 yards and the TD while FB Matt Asiata averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 7 attempts. Rosenfels finished going 7 of 11 for 111 yards with the TD to Aromashodu.

Defensively, the Vikings were paced by rookie S Robert Blanton, who had 7 tackles. Fellow rookies LB Audie Cole and DT Chase Baker had 6 stops a piece, and Baker also added a sack. Cole collected 2 special teams tackles and DE Nick Reed also registered a sack.

The Vikings have concluded their preseason schedule and will now set their sights on declaring their 53-man roster, establishing a practice squad and then returning to work next week in preparation for their season-opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Mall of America Field.


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