Friday, July 3, 2015

On Aug. 31, the Vikings claimed former Minnesota Gopher MarQueis Gray off waivers when he was released by Cleveland. Gray immediately took to social media, announcing the news to his Twitter followers:

Despite growing up in Indianapolis, the Twin Cities have become home for Gray.  His wife, stepdaughter and twin sons live in Minnesota, so returning to play for the Vikings is a dream come true for the 24-year-old.

At 6’4″, 240 lbs, Gray proves an extremely versatile player. He played both quarterback and wide receiver while at the U of M, and he was listed as a tight end upon his transition to the NFL.

Gray stepped into a full-time QB role as a junior in Minnesota. In 2010, while still splitting time between positions, Gray started seven games at WR, grabbing 42 catches for 587 yards and five touchdowns. In addition, he tallied 119 rushing yards on 23 carries. Gray demonstrates strong athletic ability for his size. At the 2013 NFL Combine, Gray logged a 4.73-second 40-yard dash, coming in as the fourth fastest QB.

Gray signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent, working out as a half back before moving to tight end. He played preseason with San Fran before being cut and then picked up by the Browns. Gray spent the 2013-14 season in Cleveland, in which he got six carries and two catches in 12 games.

If the Gophers alum sticks to the TE position, he will fall into third string behind Kyle Rudolph and Rhett Ellison.

Minnesota released linebacker Larry Dean and offensive tackle Austin Wentworth to clear roster room for Gray and tackle Mike Harris, waived by the Chargers.

The Vikings have announced nine of the ten players on their practice squad, and for the most part it is relatively predictable. Here it is:

Player Position
Mike Remmers OT
Joe Banyard RB
Chase Ford TE
Kain Colter WR
Donte Foster WR
Kendall James CB
Zac Kerin C
Justin Trattou DE
Isame Faciane DT
Austin Wentworth OT

The rumor about Dominique Williams’ practice squad invite did not bear out, but everything else fits. Austin Wentworth must clear waivers before he can sign with the Vikings’ practice squad, but he has already been invited. Two of my favorite longshots , Kerin and Faciane, did make it. The top performers on this squad are Trattou, Banyard and Colter, but other than DOnte Foster there aren’t any head scratchers to me (although I’m not a huge fan of Mike Remmers).

Expect things to change a lot during the season.

The Minnesota Vikings have claimed former Cleveland Browns tight end Marqueis Gray and San Diego Chargers offensive tackle Mike Harris, per Brian Hall. They have waived Larry Dean and Austin Wentworth to do it.

Gray is a former University of Minnesota quarterback, who moved to tight end in the NFL and worked with Norv Turner in Cleveland (first stopping in San Francisco) and plays a versatile H-back role, moving around the field to create mismatches. Gray was also used in specific packages, like a Wildcat-type package in Cleveland. Gray had 104 snaps in the preseason with a Pro Football Focus grade of -3.8. In the regular season in 2013, Gray appeared in thirteen games (115 snaps) and ended with a positive grade (0.8 ).

Mike Harris is also a former Norv Turner player, and has played for the San Diego Chargers since 2012. He went to school at UCLA and went undrafted. Harris had 163 snaps in the preseason and finished with a -0.2 grade. In the regular season in 2013, Harris appeared in three games (194 snaps) and ended with a positive grade (0.6). The year previous, Mike Harris started at left tackle and finished as PFF’s worst-graded tackle by a significant margin.

Austin Wentworth is eligible for the practice squad, but Larry Dean is not, even with expanded rules (he has had three accrued seasons in the NFL). The other players who are eligible for the practice squad are as follows:

Player Position
Dominique Williams HB
Donte Foster WR
Mike Zimmer LB
Kendall James CB
Kain Colter WR
Isame Faciane DT
Zac Kerin C
Austin Wentworth OT
Chase Ford TE
Kamar Jorden WR
Robert Steeples CB
Jeff Baca OG
Mike Remmers OT
Joe Banyard RB
Chase Baker DT
Allen Reisner TE

Joe Banyard is known to be signed to the practice squad. Kain Colter and Dominique Williams are reported to have practice squad invites. Some of the availability is restricted, as two of the slots are available for those players who have had two accrued seasons (like Allen Reisner) while eight other slots do not.

UPDATE: Chase Ford is also reported to be on the practice squad. So is Austin Wentworth.

UPDATE2: Mike Remmers is reported to be on the practice squad, per his agent.

UPDATE3: Kain Colter has been confirmed for the practice squad.

UPDATE4: Jeff Baca has not been signed to the practice squad, but the “door will remain open”

Player Position
Mike Remmers OT
Austin Wentworth OT
Joe Banyard RB
Chase Ford TE
Kain Colter WR
Dominique Williams RB

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If you missed Part One (rookies) or Part Two (fantasy), be sure to check those out. I had a chance to talk for twenty minutes with Tom Moore about the state of the Vikings roster as a whole and what the Vikings may plan on doing from here on out with the roster as it stands, as well as what the specific cuts may or may not mean.

It’s a huge honor to be able to talk to VikeFans and Tom Moore in general, and I couldn’t put it any better than Adam did:

We here at VT had the good fortune of getting to know Tom Moore and the other fine folks over at VikeFans.com.  They are one of the most hopping, and most well-informed, Vikings forums on the internet.  Meanwhile, Tom and the gang keep putting together some of the best Vikings content you can find anywhere, and it comes most often in the form of some great radio-style interviews.

Considering the regular bits with Pete Bercich, the interviews of legends like Tommy Kramer, and the on-field updates from first round picks, it was a great honor when VT was asked to participate in a series of preseason conversations with Tom Moore.

Each of us will spend some time talking to Tom this week, and we will be sure to post each video as they become available, but we encourage you to make VikeFans.com a part of your regular Vikings-news diet and considering registering yourself as a member of their forums if you aren’t already.

It’s a fantastic site that you should check out. I’ll be commenting over there on the interview I did, so be sure to visit the website.


 

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The Minnesota Vikings, who typically have made moves late in the day on cutdown day, have made two moves that have inspired the creation of this cut tracker and a rapid reaction. The first is to put Jamarca Sanford on injured reserve (not designated for return) and to cut nose tackle Fred Evans, which is a pretty big surprise.

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Sanford’s move to injured reserve was a surprise. What about the other cuts?

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