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Updated: August 17th, 2011 11:11pm
Pelissero: Allen Reisner tops short list of Vikings UDFAs with a shot

Pelissero: Allen Reisner tops short list of Vikings UDFAs with a shot

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Allen Reisner was giving an interview on Wednesday when Visanthe Shiancoe tapped the reporter on the shoulder.

"Hey," Shiancoe said, nodding toward his rookie teammate. "He's gonna be good."

Reisner laughed. Shiancoe didn't.

Others who have watched Reisner the past 2½ weeks with the Minnesota Vikings wouldn't laugh either.

The undrafted tight end from Iowa has caught everything thrown in his direction -- well, almost -- and shown he can do some dirty work with his 6-foot-3, 255-pound frame, too.

"He's done some good things," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday. "We really want to take a good look at him this weekend to see where he is and see if he can contribute to our team."

But can any undrafted free agents do enough to make the Vikings' 53-man roster in this strangest of Augusts?

At least the Vikings knew during the lockout they'd have their 10 draft picks on the roster. Undrafted players such as Reisner, who received a modest $2,500 bonus, couldn't even be sure of their NFL destinations until negotiations reopened on July 26.

"They use a lot of two-tight end sets, and I thought maybe that my abilities could help out a little bit," Reisner said. "I just wanted to give an opportunity that I had that they gave me."

The Vikings have depth at tight end, with three veterans as well as second-round draft pick Kyle Rudolph. But Reisner has experience flexing into the backfield, too, and he's flashed enough to get on the short list of players who could have value to the Vikings' program -- practice squad or otherwise -- as rookies.

Cornerback Devon Torrence (6-foot, 190 pounds) received a $9,000 bonus, has worked in the slot with the second-string defense and always seems to be around the ball, as he was while batting down another pass on Wednesday.

Fullback Matt Asiata (6-0, 234) got a $1,500 bonus, has versatility to carry the ball as a one-back and also catches well out of the backfield, although his frame isn't exactly suited for a lead-blocking role in a power-oriented run scheme.

Defensive tackle Colby Whitlock (6-2, 302) originally signed with the Denver Broncos, who cut him six days after forking over a $7,000 bonus. He tends to get off balance and not finish, but he's had some remarkable turns in one-on-one pass-rushing drills.

Receivers Andre Holmes and Domonique Johnson have come on as camp has progressed, but they're buried at one of the most competitive positions. Linebackers Larry Dean and Jonathan Gilmore; defensive backs Chris Adingupu and Ryan Hill">Ryan Hill; end David Akinniyi; guards Conan Amituanai, Rod Huntley and Byron Isom; tight end Ed Barham; and halfback Alexander Robinson are waiting for their own breakthrough moments.

"We've put a premium on preseason games," Frazier said. "You're going to play those younger guys maybe more than you would during the normal offseason because you haven't had enough exposure to him. You don't want to turn loose a potentially good player because he hasn't picked up the system or you haven't see him enough. You've got to let them play."

Reisner had a chance to make his mark as he crossed the field on fourth-and-2 late in Saturday's preseason loss to Tennessee. But Christian Ponder's pass slipped through his fingertips -- the type of tough chance Reisner knows could make a difference in someone's mind on cutdown day.

"Any ball that hits my hands (hurts) me," Reisner said. "I have the mentality that any ball that touches my hands, I should catch it."

The Vikings will visit Seattle in one exhibition on Saturday and host Dallas a week later before the first cutdown to 75 players on Aug. 30. Final cuts come Sept. 3.

In the meantime, for Reisner and hundreds of other undrafted rookies around the NFL, catching everything that comes their way is the only chance they have.

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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