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Updated: December 30th, 2011 2:29pm
Notebook: Vikings maintain high hopes for DeMarcus Love, D'Aundre Reed

Notebook: Vikings maintain high hopes for DeMarcus Love, D'Aundre Reed

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Few non-quarterbacks manage to spend an entire season on an NFL team's active roster without dressing for a single game. But two Minnesota Vikings rookies appear set to complete the feat this weekend.

DeMarcus Love, a sixth-round draft pick (168th overall) in April's draft out of Arkansas, has been working mostly at offensive tackle on the scout team. D'Aundre Reed, a seventh-round pick (215th overall) out of Arizona, has been working at both end spots.

Both described what amounts to a redshirt year as a valuable learning experience -- albeit one they'd gladly pass up for a chance to at least don a uniform for Sunday's finale against Chicago.

"Obviously, you want to get that chance to play," Love said. "But if the coaches feel you need to develop, then you have to go with what they say. If a coach feels like you're ready, you'll play, but until then, you just have to wait your turn."

It's at once a compliment and an insult. The Vikings like both players enough to keep developing them -- and paying them $22,059 a week, which is nearly four times the salary of practice-squad members. But without multiple injuries to either position group all season, coaches have yet to give them a chance to be available on game day.

"You've got to stay with it," Reed said. "You can't approach it any different, because you're just one play away from being active each game. I'll take the same approach -- still make sure I study film and do everything as if I was playing to get into a routine."

Coach Leslie Frazier was complimentary of both players on Friday and stressed the value of the offseason program for their development.

The Vikings like Love's position flexibility, Frazier said, and they also "think he has a chance to be a pretty good tackle in our league. He's pretty athletic. He picks up things fairly well. Where he was drafted at, he's actually played and practiced better for us than what we anticipated."

Reed "has a high motor, very good quickness," Frazier said. "Plays hard, practices hard every day we're out here, and that really gets you excited in watching the way he practices and prepares. ... He's a guy I think really has a chance to help us down the line."

Both players are signed through 2014.

Patching holes

With Adrian Peterson undergoing knee surgery on Friday, it was unclear whether the Vikings would dress only two halfbacks -- Toby Gerhart and Lorenzo Booker -- for Sunday's finale or activate one of the two they signed to the 53-man roster this week.

The logical pick would be Caleb King, the former Georgia back who signed for a $5,000 bonus after going unselected in the NFL supplemental draft, was waived in the final roster reduction and spent the season's first 16 weeks on the practice squad.

"You never know when it's your time," King said. "Luckily, I did follow (the veterans). I know the playbook, so if they throw me in, I'm going to be ready."

Frazier was complimentary when asked about Jordan Todman, a sixth-round draft pick by San Diego in April who admitted his decision to sign with the Vikings instead of staying on the Chargers' practice squad was impacted by Peterson's injury.

"They're going to give me an opportunity," said Todman, who finished his college career as the third-leading rusher in University of Connecticut history.

"It's up to me to make the best of that opportunity and hopefully, I show them something where they trust me, where they feel they can use me."

The odds are long, of course, that Todman could be up to speed enough on the Vikings' offense to contribute on Sunday.

"Some of what we liked is showing up here in these practices in the short time we've had him," Frazier said. "His quickness, his speed, excellent agility. He's a very bright kid as well. He was a very good player in college. But his burst really separates him from a lot of players. I think he's like a 4.4, 4.3 40. So, he's got some top-end speed."

Health watch

Days after being promoted from the practice squad, tight end Mickey Shuler sprained an ankle in practice and was listed as doubtful for Sunday's game.

Shuler probably wouldn't have dressed for the game anyway, Frazier said, and the team probably won't promote anyone to take his place on the 53-man roster.

The Vikings ruled out cornerback Chris Cook (not injury related) earlier in the week. Everyone else on the injury report fully participated in Friday's practice and were listed as probable: right guard Anthony Herrera (low back), safety Jamarca Sanford (shoulder), cornerback Asher Allen (shoulder/concussion), quarterback Christian Ponder (concussion) and cornerback Benny Sapp (shoulder).

The Bears listed halfback Marion Barber (calf) as doubtful and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) as questionable.

Redskin fined

One of the hits Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder took in Saturday's win over Washington yielded a fine -- but not the one that knocked him out of the game.

An NFL spokesman said Redskins safety Reed Doughty was fined $15,000 for roughing the passer because he "struck the opposing QB in the head and neck area as he slid."

Doughty also was given a 15-yard penalty on the play, which left Ponder with a bloody nose and a cut on his lip.

Redskins linebacker London Fletcher wasn't fined for what looked like a helmet-to-helmet hit that left Ponder was a concussion and ended his day in the third quarter. No flag was thrown.

Vikings guard Brandon Fusco wasn't fined for his personal foul either.

Quick hits

• Peterson was undergoing knee surgery with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., as Frazier addressed reporters. An update was expected later in the day.

• The Vikings are encouraging fans to "Beard Yourself" in honor of TE Jimmy Kleinsasser's final game on Sunday. On the team's Web site is a cartoonish sketch of Kleinsasser's beard, which the Vikings hope fans will print, attach to a stick of some kind and "wear" it during the game.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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