Minnesota Vikings projected 53-man roster
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Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is set to meet with his staff Tuesday to iron out early risers and fallers on the team's depth chart after the opening practices of 2014 training camp.
Before we see those changes in effect on Wednesday, here's a projected depth chart for the team's final 53-man roster.
The charade about a three-horse race at quarterback didn't carry over into training camp as Cassel and Bridgewater have taken the lion's share of throws during practices. Cassel has unequivocally taken first-team reps, with Bridgewater commanding the second-team offense so far. There's the possibility Ponder could be moved before he becomes a free agent. If not, it'd be surprising to see him serve any role outside of emergency quarterback.
Running backs (4)
- Jerick McKinnon
Asiata has been one of the surprises for the Vikings and Norv Turner, who brought him up unprovoked when asked about rookie McKinnon last week. Turner and Zimmer praised Asiata both as a ball carrier and pass protector, which could be they key for him if he wants to be the main man to spell Peterson in third-down situations. McKinnon has worked behind Asiata and figures to make the team as a special teamer and utility back that can also throw the ball. Zach Line could also push Felton for the fullback spot if he shows more value as a receiver out of the backfield.
- Adam Thielen
- Kain Colter
With Simpson facing a potential suspension to start the season, the Vikings may need to carry six receivers on the 53-man roster to make up for his absence. Adam Thielen had already impressed general manager Rick Spielman before training camp and the Mankato graduate continued to shine in camp. Both Thielen and Kain Colter have fielded returns in practice and could find added value as a returner as the team looks for fill-ins for Patterson, who will become a focal point of the offense. Rodney Smith, a practice squad holdover, could be in contention for the final spot as a 6-foot-5 downfield threat in Turner's offense.
Tight ends (3)
- AC Leonard
The spot to backup Rudolph opened when Chase Ford showed up to training camp with a broken foot. Ford will likely start the season on the physically unable to perform list, which gives rookie AC Leonard an opening as a secondary pass-catching tight end to Rudolph. Leonard has already seen first-team reps in two tight end sets. Ellison should make the final roster as the team's primary H-back.
Offensive linemen (8)
- David Yankey
Antonio Richardson could push Murphy for the team's swing tackle spot, but so far the undrafted rookie has worked behind the practice squad holdover. Yankey may be Johnson's biggest threat as the starter at left guard, but so far Johnson hasn't given up any top snaps. Vlad Ducasse and Jeff Baca are on the outside-looking-in so far in camp. Berger's versatility as a center/guard should secure his role as the veteran backup interior lineman.
Defensive linemen (8)
- Linval Joseph
- Corey Wootton
- Tom Johnson
- Scott Crichton
The Vikings tied up a lot of money into their starting defensive line in the past year when re-signing Griffen, Robison and adding free agent Joseph at nose tackle. Wootton and Crichton could serve rotational roles in what is the team's deepest position on the roster. The most pressure to improve falls on Floyd's shoulders as he replaces Kevin Williams. Rookie Shamar Stephen has a tough hill to climb to be Joseph's backup at nose, with veteran Evans in his path.
- Anthony Barr
Dean and rookie Brandon Watts should compete for the final spot in this group. Both Dean and Watts have served roles on special teams so far, but Dean's experience as the special teamer has given him the leg up.
Defensive backs (11)
- Derek Cox
- Shaun Prater
- Antone Exum
As of right now, rookies Jabari Price and Kendall James are on the outside looking in. Fixing the defensive secondary was a primary focus in the offseason and the Vikings will likely carry many bodies into the season. Blanton has been a surprise riser as he's taken first-team reps alongside Smith, while Andrew Sendejo and Kurt Coleman are the fallers so far. Zimmer hasn't seen Sendejo, who could start the season on the PUP, practice once since his offseason back surgery, while Coleman has mostly worked with Exum and behind Raymond at safety. Sherels' value as a returner, and an improving defender, should keep him on the roster, while Prater figures to be Munnerlyn's backup in the slot. Keep an eye on Price, who has worked in all four phases of special teams and has seen some top snaps in place of Munnerlyn, who is on the PUP. Without seeing Price in a preseason game, it's too early to move him above Prater, who appeared in eight games for the Vikings last season.
These positions are unchallenged and unchanged from last season as this group prepares for 13 of 16 games outdoors in 2014.