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Updated: April 19th, 2012 10:57pm
Vikings by position, Day 5: Contingency plan for Peterson incomplete

Vikings by position, Day 5: Contingency plan for Peterson incomplete

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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Each weekday until the NFL Draft begins on April 26, Tom Pelissero is breaking down the Minnesota Vikings' roster by position, based on observations of games and practice, weekly tape studies and interviews with NFL coaches and scouts.

Day 5

Running backs.

On the roster (8)

Matt Asiata, Ryan D'Imperio, Jerome Felton, Toby Gerhart, Lex Hilliard, Caleb King, Adrian Peterson, Jordan Todman.

Unsigned (1)

Lorenzo Booker (non-tendered).

Breakdown

The Vikings consistently have said they're hoping for a Week 1 return by Peterson (6-foot-1, 217 pounds), who blew out his left knee on Dec. 24 at Washington and underwent ACL reconstruction six days later. But even if Peterson is available 8½ months after surgery, there are doubts about the workload he'll be able to handle -- and whether he'll regain his explosive All-Pro form at any point in 2012. That portends more action for Gerhart (6-0, 231), who averaged 5.0 yards on 83 carries in the six games Peterson missed all or part of because of injuries. Gerhart lacks Peterson's elusiveness or straightline speed, but he can wear on a defense and run people over with a head of steam. The MCL he sprained in the season finale didn't require surgery and is a nonissue. The probable departure of Booker (5-10, 201) could open the door for Todman (5-9, 193), the speedy former sixth-round pick the Vikings poached from San Diego's practice squad on Dec. 27. Another option is Hilliard (5-11, 240), who appeared in all 16 games the past three seasons with Miami. He got a one-year deal with a $50,000 workout bonus and will need to carve out a role on special teams. King (5-11, 217) signed for a $5,000 bonus after no one bit in the supplemental draft and may lack the burst or power to make up for his stature. The Vikings went without a fullback last season until promoting D'Imperio (6-2, 241), who appeared in 12 games but only played 15.1% of the offensive snaps, doing his best work on special teams. Felton (6-0, 246) figures to challenge for that spot after splitting last season in unfavorable situations with Detroit, Carolina and Indianapolis. The Vikings tried to claim him off waivers at least once before and took the minimum salary exception on his one-year, $750,000 contract, lowering his cap number to $590,000. Asiata (5-11, 220) has good hands and made a positive impression in camp last summer before he started having hip trouble.

Draft outlook

Coach Leslie Frazier has hinted the Vikings may draft another halfback to provide insurance if their starter isn't ready to start the season. They already have a lot invested in Peterson and Gerhart, though, making it unlikely they'd take another back earlier than Round 4, if not later. Fullback probably won't be addressed at all.

Last 10 drafts

• 2011: None.
• 2010: Gerhart (second round, 51st overall); D'Imperio (seventh, 237th).
• 2009: None.
• 2008: None.
• 2007: Adrian Peterson (first, seventh).
• 2006: None.
• 2005: Ciatrick Fason (fourth, 112th).
• 2004: Mewelde Moore (fourth, 112th).
• 2003: Onterrio Smith (fourth, 105th).
• 2002: None.

Linked in

The Vikings have had no known visits with running backs.

High fives

Mel Kiper, ESPN: Halfbacks -- 1. Trent Richardson, Alabama. 2. LaMichael James, Oregon. 3. Doug Martin, Boise State. 4. Lamar Miller, Miami. 5. David Wilson, Virginia Tech. Fullbacks -- 1. Bradie Ewing, Wisconsin. 2. Emil Igwenagu, UMass. 3. Rhett Ellison, Southern California. 4. Evan Rodriguez, Temple. 5. Cody Johnson, Texas.

Mike Mayock, NFL Network: Halfbacks -- 1. Richardson. 2. Martin. 3. Wilson. 4. Miller. 5. James.

Shawn Zobel, DraftHeadquarters.com: Halfbacks -- 1. Richardson. 2. Martin. 3. Miller. 4. Wilson. 5. Robert Turbin, Utah State. Fullbacks -- 1. Chad Diehl, Clemson. 2. Ewing. 3. Johnson. 4. Joe Halahuni, Oregon State. 5. Joe Suhey, Penn State.

Up next

Defensive line.

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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