Notebook: Roster situation fluid; Anthony Herrera likely headed to PUP
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MANKATO, Minn. -- From the signing of veteran Michael Jenkins to coach Leslie Frazier's outspoken support of Bernard Berrian, signs have mounted for days the Minnesota Vikings may decide against signing a high-profile free agent to help the receiver group.
One of their reported targets, James Jones, re-signed with the Green Bay Packers for three years on Sunday. Shortly after, Frazier reiterated the Vikings plan "to take a look at the guys we have. But we're still paying attention to the waiver wires and guys that are being released and guys that are being signed."
Two other top free agents to whom the Vikings have been connected, Braylon Edwards and Malcom Floyd, remain unsigned. But the team appears to be moving forward, at least for now, in wait-and-see mode with the 11 receivers they have under contract -- not to mention the other 78 players on the roster.
Frazier said physicals and evaluating players' conditioning in the coming days will be key to pending decisions across the board.
Asked if the team is moving on without veteran Pat Williams, Frazier said, "We'll still keep the door open until we know exactly where we are roster-wise. We're still finalizing some things as we speak and if Pat finds something -- he and I have talked about this -- he's going to do what he has to do. But we'll see what happens. There's still a lot to be done yet."
Frazier also said team is "not having active discussions" with Ben Leber's agent about retaining the veteran weakside linebacker. Erin Henderson will get the first crack at starting, with Kenny Onatolu and perhaps Jasper Brinkley also getting snaps in practice if Leber doesn't return.
"He's actually doing what he needs to do as far as furthering his career," Frazier said of Leber, 32. "There still are some possibilities maybe here, but couldn't promise him anything. We just have to wait and see."
Cornerback Cedric Griffin will be cleared for partial participation in practice starting Monday, Frazier said, a little less than 10 months after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in a year.
"Based on what the doctors told me, we've kind of got to go slow early on," Frazier said. "But we want to try to get him ready for that San Diego game."
Meanwhile, there was "a very good chance" right guard Anthony Herrera -- who also tore an ACL, on Nov. 21 -- would be placed on the training camp physically unable to perform list, although Frazier said that decision wouldn't be finalized until Sunday night.
Chris DeGeare likely would receive the first-team work until Herrera is ready, but the team needs to make sure his conditioning is up to snuff.
At least 15 Vikings, including new QB Donovan McNabb, won't be eligible to practice until Thursday because of the NFL's transition rule about free-agent contracts and renegotiations.
"They're going to be able to sit in the meetings, they'll be able to watch practice -- they just won't be able to participate in any of the things that we're doing," Frazier said. "So, Donovan along with the others -- they'll still be very involved from a mental standpoint, just not involved in the physical part of practice."
Joe Webb -- "the incumbent," Frazier said -- will take the first-team reps at quarterback until McNabb is eligible. That means Rhett Bomar and rookie first-round pick Christian Ponder will split the second- and third-team reps for now.
Ponder, who signed a four-year contract reportedly worth $11 million guaranteed on Sunday morning, said he met with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave twice a day for 2 to 3 hours each time once the lockout was lifted early last week.
"It was one thing to kind of study the playbook on your own," Ponder said. "But when you hear it from your coaches, it's completely different. It was good information to get, good time spent and hopefully, it's going to make me better. We'll see (Monday)."
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams said he still hasn't heard anything from the NFL about whether the league intends to enforce his long-delayed four-game "StarCaps" suspension at the start of the season, since he and Pat Williams finally are out of appeals in the courts.
"Hopefully, they forget about it, but you know how that goes," Williams said. "Whatever happens, happen. We're prepared either way, or I am. Just going to go with that. Haven't heard back from them. Maybe once this CBA thing gets settled completely we'll hear from them, but I'm going to keep moving accordingly until then."
The NFL Players' Association recertified as a union on Saturday and reentered into talks about, among other things, enforcement of the league's drug and personal-conduct policies. The issues the Williamses contested in the courts for roughly 2½ years surely will be a part of the discussion, although it seems unlikely the NFL would rescind their bans altogether.
• Asked if it'll be weird to play without Pat Williams beside him, Kevin Williams said, "I know, you're going to make me cry. I don't know. I had a few years without Pat before. I'm going to definitely miss him if he's not back. It's just going to take some getting used to."
• Frazier said Jenkins' familiarity with Musgrave's offense "was a plus" when the Vikings were considering signing him. Receivers coach George Stewart also knows Jenkins, having been coaching in Atlanta when the Falcons drafted him 29th overall in 2004. "He's a tall guy who has very good hands, former number one pick, and I think we're very fortunate to have him," Frazier said.
• Tyrell Johnson, Jamarca Sanford and rookie sixth-round pick Mistral Raymond will compete for the starting safety spot vacated by Madieu Williams' release, Frazier said. Johnson figures to get the first look as the starter.
• The Vikings will practice once on Monday and Tuesday without pads, and there will be no true "two-a-day" practices, in accordance with new NFL safety rules. "I'm psyched," LG Steve Hutchinson said. "I'm going to be 34 this fall. I'm happy we're only doing one-a-days, put it that way."