Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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greg childs

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Last year, when the Vikings thought they had a fourth round steal when the selected Greg Childs, the talented receiver out of Arkansas that slipped in the Draft due to injury concerns.  So far, almost two full seasons into his career, only the concerns have been realized and the talent level remains to be seen.

Childs tore both patellar tendons on August 4th of the team’s 2012 training camp and has been in rehabilitation mode ever since.  He has been a fixture in the locker room and his determination has been the subject of hundreds of Vikings-focused articles ever since he sustained the injury.  Monday marked the NFL deadline for the Vikings to either let Childs practice, put him on injured reserve again, or release him outright.  They decided to let him practice and that is a huge milestone for his comeback campaign.

He practiced for the first time in 15 months on Wednesday.

The Vikings now have three weeks to decide what to do with him next.  A 21-day deadline is now going to be imposed, per NFL rules, and the Vikings will either have to activate him or put him on injured reserve… or release him.  Considering the time invested into their young wide out, it would be surprising if they gave up on him at this point, as they would surely like to get him into training camp next year to see what he can do.

Childs was once thought of as a possible answer for the Vikings at the receiver position, but they were forced to move forward without him, and he will be joining a crowded group with decent talent.  Since his injury the Vikings have invested heavily into first rounder Cordarrelle Patterson, paid handsomely to obtain Greg Jennings, and converted Joe Webb back to receiver.  They have also allowed youngsters Rodney Smith and Adam Theilen to hang around and Jerome Simpson is the team’s leading pass catcher.

Still, Childs is determined to make it back to the field of play, and when he does I doubt he’ll be any less determined when it comes to making an impact.

Last week, prior to training camp commencing, the fine folks at DraftSeason.com asked me to participate in a little exercise along with a handful of other fine blogs.  The mission was simple:  Predict what the 53-man roster will look like after final cuts are made.

I’m posting my predictions here, but the final results that include all of the various roster projections can be found by clicking here.

A few things about my projection will jump out at you:

  • I didn’t give wide out Greg Childs or Michael Mauti the benefit of the doubt regarding their injury status.  Keep in mind, this was written prior to Mauti being cleared for practice.  Regardless, I just couldn’t pretend to be a doctor, and had to leave them off the list until they prove that they are not only healthy enough to play in the NFL, but talented enough, too.  They are both guys I root for, but they didn’t make my pre-training camp roster.
  • Of the blogs polled, I was the only one to give the third running back spot to undrafted rookie Bradley Randle.  You all have known my desire for the Vikings to have a dynamic scat back longer than the world has known who Barack Obama is, but I think his true value lies on special teams.  He can produce a big hit, which has already been on display in Mankato, and just seems to have a lot more upside compared to his competition.
  • I was also the only blogger to dedicate a roster spot to cornerback Bobby Felder.  I was relieved when the Vikings managed to sneak him onto the practice squad last year, as I felt he had tremendous upside, and I think his year of practicing with the team will pay dividends as he faces off against the likes of Jacob Lacey and Brandon Burton.

Anyways, here is my final (okay, not really final, I bet) for what the roster will look like on opening day:

[NOTE FROM ADAM:  In case you missed it, Lemke’s first bold prediction involved the safety position and you can read about it by clicking right here.  Enjoy round two!]

Many eyes will be on the suddenly talented group of Vikings wide receivers when training camp opens at the end of July.  With new faces like Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, along with familiar faces Jarius Wright, Jerome Simpson, and Pro Bowl MVP tight end Kyle Rudolph, fans have a reason to be excited about the passing game. After the probable four “locks” to make the roster (Jennings, Patterson, Wright, and Simpson), the competition becomes intense for the rest of the receivers as to who will still be wearing purple in September.

Joe Webb, Chris Summers, undrafted free agent Rodney Smith, and the hopeful success story Greg Childs will all have to compete for roster spots over the course of the season. Summers was picked up by the Vikings and placed on the practice squad in 2012 after being cut by the Chicago Bears. He is a long shot to make the team, but he has been making some noise this offseason, reportedly looking good in practices. Another long shot is undrafted rookie Rodney Smith out of FSU, however his height (6’5) and speed are both very impressive. I think the main competition will be between Greg Childs and Joe Webb, but even though the Vikings rarely keep more than five receivers, I think both will make the team.

To see Greg Childs come back after suffering an extremely rare dual knee cap blowout would be amazing, and it sounds like he will possibly be ready for training camp. Provided he’s ready and is able to play during the preseason, I think he’ll be another great weapon to add to the mix, and I don’t see how he couldn’t make the roster. I think Joe Webb’s role won’t be so much at wide receiver, but more of a special teams ace. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has already talked up the idea of using Webb on special teams as a punt returner, field goal blocking schemes, and even as a gunner on the punting team. I think his versatility as a receiver and special teams member will win him a roster spot, but honestly I’m just glad his days as a quarterback are over (for us anyways).

One of the biggest keys to the success of a football team is their ability to stay healthy, as well as prove deep enough at any given position to help cover for the unhealthy, and so it is important to keep tabs on the injuries plaguing the Vikings roster even as early as OTAs in May.

For the second day in a row, Jared Allen remains the only player absent from OTAs, but there is no indication that his absence has anything to do with injury.  As we mentioned yesterday, Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN says Allen had family obligations this week, and it isn’t particularly abnormal for him to miss OTAs.

Wide out Greg Jennings faces big expectations in 2013 as he tries to improve on his last two injury riddled years in Green Bay.  That is why it is disappointing to hear that Jennings was a scratch only two days into OTAs with an ankle injury suffered yesterday.

“His ankle’s a little bit sore,” Frazier said to 1500 ESPN. “But he’ll be fine. Nothing serious. He’s on the side working with (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman.”

Meanwhile, fellow wide outs Greg Childs and Chris Summers were also unable to participate.  Childs is really no surprise, considering he tore both patellar tendons during the 2012 preseason.  An inspirational return from Childs would certainly be a welcomed surprise, but getting any sort of contribution from him in 2013 would indeed be a, well… surprise.  Summers has the potential to compete for a roster spot at the bottom of the depth chart, but he will have to recover from his ankle injury in short order to avoid another season spent on the practice squad.

NFL MVP running back Adrian Peterson had surgery for a sports hernia on February 7th, but that isn’t expected to slow him down much, as it did little to slow him down as he played with the injury for weeks prior to the end of last season.  Peterson says he is “pretty much 100 percent” and was able to fully participate in all the drills and 11-on-11 skirmishes.  Minnesota’s offense lives and dies with Peterson so the importance of his health status simply cannot be stressed enough.  It is a good sign to hear that he is doing so well at the end of May.

Center John Sullivan had microfracture knee surgery this offseason and is not currently participating in OTAs.  After a season that arguably landed him among the top the centers in the league it will be a major disappointment if he has to miss any time, or doesn’t start the season at 100%, but that is not expected to be the case.

Linebacker Michael Mauti, drafted in the final round of this year’s Draft, was expectedly unable to participate.  Mauti’s list of past injuries is so long it can only be written on a scroll, but he could also represent one of the true steals of this class if he can recover from his latest knee reconstruction and stick to the Vikings roster, and he has the talent to challenge for a starting role in the future.  The first order of business, however, will be to get the Penn State product back to full health.

That might seem like a lengthy list of injuries, but outside of Childs and Mauti there is no indication that we need to consider any of them overly serious, and this is the time of year when displays of toughness will often take a backseat to precautionary measures.  We’ll be sure to keep you updated should any other developments surface.

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