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Updated: August 31st, 2012 8:27pm
Pelissero: Vikings getting even younger, choosing upside over 3 vets

Pelissero: Vikings getting even younger, choosing upside over 3 vets

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

The Minnesota Vikings were going to be one of the NFL's youngest teams no matter what happened in Friday's roster reduction to 53 players.

The decisions to release quarterback Sage Rosenfels, cornerback Chris Carr and safety Eric Frampton only accelerated the youth movement.

They cut Rosenfels, 34, in favor McLeod Bethel-Thompson, whose strong arm apparently outweighed Rosenfels' leadership and partially guaranteed contract.

They cut Carr, 29, in favor of Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels, with the hopes rookie third-round draft pick Josh Robinson can play immediately.

They cut Frampton, 28, in favor of Andrew Sendejo, who impressed before his ankle injury and might have a chance to contribute on defense as Frampton never could.

In all three cases, the deciding factor was keeping younger players with more upside.

Those cuts, along with that of a fourth vested veteran -- end Jeff Charleston, 29 -- left the Vikings with 40 players (75.5%) ages 27 or younger.

They were in the process of acquiring another, cornerback A.J. Jefferson, in a trade with Arizona that hadn't been announced as of late Friday night.

Of the 20 players the Vikings have drafted over the past two seasons, 16 are on the roster, with two more on injured reserve. The only rookie draft pick who didn't make the cut, defensive tackle Trevor Guyton, likely will return on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

The Vikings cut 20 players in all, moved one (tackle DeMarcus Love) to injured reserve and moved another (receiver Jerome Simpson) to the reserve/suspended list to get down from 75. More moves could come over the weekend as other teams' cuts pass through waivers.

The following is a thumbnail look at the Vikings' 53-man roster, position by position, as announced by the team shortly after Friday's deadline:

Quarterbacks (3)

In: Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Out: Sage Rosenfels.
Last call: Bethel-Thompson over Rosenfels, who had the best numbers (17-of-25 passing, two touchdowns, 122.9 rating) of the Vikings' quarterbacks in the preseason and will still get the $500,000 guaranteed portion of his base salary. The Vikings decided Bethel-Thompson had flashed too much potential to risk exposing him to waivers.

Running backs (4)

In: Matt Asiata, Jerome Felton, Toby Gerhart, Adrian Peterson.
Out: Ryan D'Imperio, Lex Hilliard, Jordan Todman.
Last call: Asiata over Hilliard and Todman, who made a late push by rushing for 114 yards on 10 carries, including a 76-yard touchdown, in Thursday's exhibition finale at Houston. The Vikings wanted a back who could play all three downs, and Asiata's versatility to play fullback certainly didn't hurt with D'Imperio gone.

Receivers (5*)

In: Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton, Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins, Jerome Simpson*, Jarius Wright.
Out: Emmanuel Arceneaux.
Last call: Burton over not keeping an extra receiver during Simpson's three-game suspension to start the season. Once Simpson comes back, someone will have to go.

Tight ends (4)

In: John Carlson, Rhett Ellison, Kyle Rudolph, Allen Reisner.
Out: Mickey Shuler.
Last call: Reisner over Shuler, who has the more balanced skillset but doesn't have Reisner's hands. This is a spot where the Vikings might make another cut if they make a waiver claim, with Reisner the odd man out, just like he was last year when they made in ill-fated claim on linebacker Xavier Adibi.

Offensive linemen (8)

In: Joe Berger, Pat Brown, Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson, Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt, Geoff Schwartz, John Sullivan.
Out: Chris DeGeare, Quentin Saulsberry, Kevin Murphy, Tyler Holmes, Austin Pasztor.
Injured reserve: DeMarcus Love (shoulder/pectoral).
Last call: Brown over DeGeare, a fifth-round draft pick in 2010 who appeared in eight games (five starts) as a rookie and spent last season on the practice squad. Brown struggled badly on Thursday, though, and the Vikings probably will be monitoring waivers closely for help at tackle.

Defensive linemen (8)

In: Jared Allen, Christian Ballard, Fred Evans, Everson Griffen, Letroy Guion, D'Aundre Reed, Brian Robison, Kevin Williams.
Out: Chase Baker, Jeff Charleston, Trevor Guyton, Nick Reed.
Last call: Keeping only eight and cutting Reed, who had a productive preseason and is only 24 years old. There just aren't a ton of reps to go around, and the Vikings regretted hanging onto Adrian Awasom after the cutdown last year.

Linebackers (7)

In: Jasper Brinkley, Audie Cole, Larry Dean, Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Marvin Mitchell, Tyrone McKenzie.
Out: Corey Paredes.
Last call: Keeping McKenzie in addition to Dean, who is a core special teamer but has been battling a shoulder issue and had a brutal game on Thursday. Mitchell's sprained ankle probably made that decision easier, though.

Defensive backs (11)

In: Robert Blanton, Zackary Bowman, Brandon Burton, Chris Cook, Josh Robinson, Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Sendejo, Marcus Sherels, Harrison Smith, Antoine Winfield.
Out: Chris Carr, Bobby Felder, Eric Frampton, Reggie Jones.
Last call: Burton and Sherels over Carr, who got $100,000 in bonuses on the one-year deal he signed in April but didn't do much to build faith in the preseason. Also, Sendejo over Frampton, who had been a core special teamer here for five years but showed again on Thursday he really can't play safety. There could be another cut here after the Jefferson trade is complete, depending on some health situations.

Specialists (3)

In: Cullen Loeffler, Chris Kluwe, Blair Walsh.
Out: None.
Last call: There wasn't one. Walsh has been what the Vikings expected when they drafted him.

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
In this story: Xavier Adibi, Jared Allen, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Devin Aromashodu, Matt Asiata, Adrian Awasom, Chase Baker, Christian Ballard, Joe Berger, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Robert Blanton, Zackary Bowman, Jasper Brinkley, Pat Brown, Brandon Burton, Stephen Burton, John Carlson, Chris Carr, Audie Cole, Chris Cook, Ryan D'Imperio, Larry Dean, Chris DeGeare, Rhett Ellison, Fred Evans, Bobby Felder, Jerome Felton, Eric Frampton, Brandon Fusco, Toby Gerhart, Chad Greenway, Everson Griffen, Letroy Guion, Trevor Guyton, Percy Harvin, Erin Henderson, Lex Hilliard, Tyler Holmes, A.J. Jefferson, Michael Jenkins, Charlie Johnson, Reggie Jones, Matt Kalil, Chris Kluwe, Phil Loadholt, Cullen Loeffler, DeMarcus Love, Tyrone McKenzie, Marvin Mitchell, Kevin Murphy, Corey Paredes, Austin Pasztor, Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder, Mistral Raymond, D'Aundre Reed, Nick Reed, Allen Reisner, Josh Robinson, Brian Robison, Sage Rosenfels, Kyle Rudolph, Jamarca Sanford, Quentin Saulsberry, Geoff Schwartz, Andrew Sendejo, Marcus Sherels, Mickey Shuler, Jerome Simpson, Harrison Smith, John Sullivan, Jordan Todman, Blair Walsh, Joe Webb, Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield, Jarius Wright
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