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Updated: August 28th, 2012 10:03pm
Zulgad: Everything going according to plan for Vikings' Rick Spielman

Zulgad: Everything going according to plan for Vikings' Rick Spielman

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

Plaxico Burress remains available on the free-agent market. The Seattle Seahawks decided to jettison veteran Terrell Owens after a brief look in the preseason. Chad Johnson was shown the door by the Miami Dolphins after his arrest for domestic violence.

All could have something left to offer a team that needs help at wide receiver.

The Minnesota Vikings would qualify as one of those franchises, but despite their obvious needs at this spot, especially with Jerome Simpson suspended for the first three games of the regular season, they have shown no known interest in any of these veterans.

While each carries baggage that would scare off potential employers, that almost certainly is not the most important issue when it comes to why the decision-makers at Winter Park aren't interested.

A player such as the 35-year-old Burress simply does not fit the plan constructed by Rick Spielman and it's become extremely obvious that the Vikings general manager is not going to deviate from that plan.

With the NFL mandating that Simpson sit to open the season because of his violation of the league's substance abuse policy, the Vikings figure to go into their Sept. 9 opener against Jacksonville with a wide receiver corps that features Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Jarius Wright and either Stephen Burton or Manny Arceneaux.

Considering Harvin and Wright are slot receivers, this means quarterback Christian Ponder could face the Jaguars, Colts and 49ers without a credible downfield threat. Perhaps Harvin will have to be asked to stretch the field more than usual.

This might bother Ponder, coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, but one gets the feeling it won't cause any havoc with Spielman's sleep habits.

After seeing the Vikings tie a franchise-low with three victories in 2011 - that finish got Spielman promoted to the general manager's job - he isn't about to repeat the mistakes made last year.

There will be no quick fixes or corners cut in 2012 - at least in Spielman's mind.

That means there will be no influx of veterans for the sake of trying to win a few extra games. The Donovan McNabb-type experiments are over at Winter Park. The Javon Walkers of the world aren't going to get a look just because they are available.

This is why it's often best to observe what teams do and make your own judgment rather than listening to what they say and taking that at face value.

Nobody associated with the Vikings is going to go on the record and call this a rebuilding season but that's exactly what this is going to be. This has been obvious for several months, and Spielman's approach through the preseason has done nothing but reinforced that thought.

That likely means 2012, as expected, often will be painful. But it's also what needs to happen.

That also doesn't mean there won't be plenty of player turnover throughout the course of this season. Just don't expect to recognize a lot of the names that dot the bottom of this roster.

Spielman, Frazier, assistant general manager George Paton and others are going to have plenty of decisions to make on Friday as the Vikings cut their roster from 75 players to 53. This isn't like 2010 when the Vikings returned all their starters and left only a few openings for newcomers.

The Vikings will spend the first portion of the season near the top of the pecking order when it comes to claiming players off waivers and from the moment cuts begin this week it's likely this franchise will be very active in shuffling players in and out in an attempt to find guys who can be developed and make long-term contributions.

In other words, it might be a good idea that come Saturday players near the bottom of the roster not get too comfortable just because they have been told they made it coming out of the exhibition season.

The guys who are shuffled in and out might not be the types of players who can help the Vikings win games in 2012, but after what this organization went through in 2011 being shortsighted is no longer the game plan in Eden Prairie.

Rebuilding is the plan, no matter what the Vikings elect to call it. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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