Friday, March 6, 2015
Blog Page 146

With two preseason games down, and two to go, I found myself considering a number of changes to my prediction of who would make the Vikings final 53-man roster.  The last time I wrote a prediction was just before the open of training camp and quite a bit has happened since then.  The players that made my previous cut, but no longer do, are marked with a strike.  The players that are new to my list are bolded.

Quarterback: Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Analysis:  No changes here.  MBT solidified his spot above Vandenberg with a solid performance last week, while Vandenberg didn’t even see the field.  Bill Musgrave recently made some comments about Joe Webb that have me considering only two quarterbacks making the roster, leaving Webb as a last resort, but I think that approach would be too unorthodox.

Running Back: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Bradley Randle

Analysis:  That third running back spot is still a mystery because there are a few players, including Zach Line and Joe Banyard, that are making cases for themselves.  Still, I feel like Randle provides the Vikings with the most upside and some serious special teams value.  Randle is penciled in very lightly at this point, though.

Fullback: Jerome Felton

Analysis:  Felton’s recent surgery has many assuming Zach Line will be on the opening day roster, but he is expected to ready by week one and Rhett Ellison acts as a quality backup at the position.  I just don’t see the Vikings dedicating two spots to fullbacks.

Week three of the preseason always captures the attention of fans more than any other, even though week four tends to be make-or-break time for bubble players, because the first teams see their most extensive playing time.

As the Vikings prepare to play the Niners this weekend, after two very flawed games thus far in the preseason, I have a list of things I hope to see.  Here are the top five:

5.  Something, Anything, Out Of Ponder

On one hand, what Christian Ponder does in the preseason simply does not matter.  He’s the week one starter, barring injury or suspension, so how he plays impacts the depth chart very little.  Heck, if he lights it up in the preseason, it matters equally as little because what he needs to prove is that he can quarterback his team to wins on a consistent basis.  He can’t prove, at least to me, whether or not he is “the guy” during these preseason games.  He’ll have to wait until the regular season before he can make a real case for himself, or before critics can truly call for his head.

However, on the other hand, it sure would be nice to see him perform at a higher level than he has been.  A nice solid game out of him would go a long ways towards giving us some confidence about the pending playoff race.

It wasn’t the best of times for Head Coach Leslie Frazier as he addressed the media after a lackluster performance in the Vikings’ preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. Frazier was obviously not pleased with the outcome of the game, but as usual, he took the time to politely answer questions without throwing his team under the bus.

 I for one appreciate his eternal optimism and his unshakeable demeanor, and I can certainly see why players love to play for Coach Frazier. During the post game press conference, the even tempered coach even managed to crack a smile as he spoke about the game. 

 When Frazier was asked about how Christian Ponder looked, he said, “I thought he did some good things early. He was under duress right away but he battled and ended up making some plays. He had some drops that set him back a little but he didn’t lose his poise. He put together a nice drive that we had a chance in the red zone to get some points but came up short and had to settle for a field goal. But I thought for some extended time he did some good things.”

As worries about quarterback Christian Ponder’s ability to take things to the next level seem to mount within the Vikings fan base, there is a growing list of other woes that seem to be dampening some of the enthusiasm surrounding this team as the regular season draws nearer.

DeMarcus Love will not be available for the first our weeks due to suspension.  Cornerback Jacob Lacey was released after injuries gave him no chance to take the practice field.  Defensive tackle Christian Ballard has reportedly returned to his hometown indefinitely to deal with personal issues.

Now, Sharrif Floyd’s rookie development will, at least in part, be put on hold as he recovers from a “minor” knee surgery.

Leslie Frazier said yesterday that Floyd will likely miss the remainder of the preseason, but the good news is that he’s expected back and healthy by the regular season opener.  Still, rookie repetitions during the preseason hold a premium value and it is disappointing that the team’s top Draft selection has had his opportunity cut short even if it is temporary.

I’m not trying to be an alarmist here, and with Kevin Williams in the fold Floyd is certainly not some we must see at full tilt in week one, but the pile of problems seems to be growing at a steady pace. 

Love, Lacey and Ballard were all players thought to have well-defined roles within the Vikings roster in 2013.  Now they are, by all appearances, going to be non-factors as the regular season gets underway.  The momentum just seems to be headed in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

That is all.

I was pretty high on Rick Spielman’s low-risk decision to add 26 year old Jacob Lacey to the cornerback conversation this offseason, but it appears his bid for a roster spot has come to a premature end.

A thumb injury kept Lacey out of mini-camp and a knee injury has kept him off the field in Mankato, which meant he had absolutely no chance to gain ground in the competition.  He was going to continue to have no chance since an August 12th surgery on his knee was expected to keep him out of commission until the regular season.

He was released on Monday, according to multiple reports.

The spot Lacey was hoping to take, the backup nickel spot, is currently being battled for by Marcus Sherels and Bobby Felder.  At the moment, Felder seems to have the upper hand.

The Vikings now have an open roster spot.

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