Sunday, July 5, 2015

kyle rudolph

So, this morning I was doing the dishes and listening to the Purple For The Win podcast (baller life, yo) and I was surprised to hear host Andy Carlson pretty much throw in the towel regarding tight end Chase Ford’s chances of making the final Vikings roster.

Carlson has been championing Ford all offseason long, but he sounds like he’s pretty much conceded that Ford is a goner, and neither of his guests Ted Glover and Di Murphy seemed to disagree.  Ford has a broken foot that will cause him to lose out on time to prove himself to the new coaching staff, and it was also noted by Mike Zimmer that Ford’s tweet about his injury was not something that would be tolerated.

Last season, injuries forced Chase Ford into action as an unheralded rookie, but he made an impression with some notable performances.  That included a five catch performance against Detroit in the season finale.  He ended the season with 11 catches for 133 yards and seven first downs.

So, back to Ford’s current situation: Is he really someone we should dismiss so easily?

For the most part, this is the time of year when “no news is good news” and the Vikings are doing a great job of (knock on wood) staying out of the headlines for all of the wrong reasons.  The lack of TMZ stories about our players can’t be a bad thing.  Training camp is drawing nearer and here is everything going on around the net:

16 games of football, and maybe even a post-season appearance, can change the way we look at the makeup of a roster and the value of an individual player.  With that being said, as I glance towards what drama might be in store for next offseason, Rick Spielman doesn’t appear to have many paramount decisions waiting for him on the horizon.

Most of the current players that are set to see their contracts expire after this season were signed (or re-signed) this offseason to one year deals.  The hope is that they will produce quite nicely and be worthy of another contract next offseason, but they really won’t be priorities until that production actually happens.

By most accounts, the 2014 offseason has been fulfilling for the Minnesota Vikings franchise and fans, and the NFL Draft was some Rick Spielman brilliance if general approval ratings are considered a fair unit of measurement.

Still, the offseason isn’t over, and most of us can scan this roster and find places we would like to see strengthened even further by Week One.  Additionally, with a new coaching regime and new schemes in place, it is especially difficult to pinpoint exactly where talent voids exist.  Even the most confident of analysts are lying if they tell you they know how this team will perform in 2014, and we can’t expect to get a great gauge for just how good (or bad) they are until week eight or possibly later.

Still, it would be very out of character for Rick Spielman to stop making moves at this point, and there is (say it with me) always room for improvement… or at least additional competition.

Here is a quick glance at a few guys that are currently looking for work that I think could make interesting additions to this roster in an attempt to elevate the position battles in training camp.  If these four guys don’t excite you, trust me, I understand.  There is a whole other wave of free agency that will flood the market just prior to the regular season, but for now we can really only speculate on the guys we know are available.  Here you go:

1.  La’Rod Stephens-Howling, RB, Age 27

Behind Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running back depth chart seems wide open, and those roster spots will be much debated when training camp and preseason rolls around.  With a new regime in place, it remains to be seen if Jerome Felton can even be considered a sure things this year.  The Vikings currently have five running backs and two fullbacks listed on the roster and I think there is room for another addition or two, especially given the likelihood of a preseason injury impacting at least one of these guys.

La’Rod Stephens-Howling is a guy the Vikings reportedly showed some interest in prior to the draft.  I’m not sure if that included an evaluation of his health or not, as he injured his ACL in the regular season opener last year, but his skillset is exactly what you want to have out of a second or third string running back.  He’s a versatile guy, capable of pass protection and catching passes, while also being able to contribute on special teams if need be.

If he can participate in training camp drills, I see no reason not to give this guy a chance to compete for a spot on the final 53.

On December 26, 2012, Chase Ford was signed by the Vikings to join the practice squad. The 6-foot-6 255 pound tight end from the University of Miami was originally a 2012 undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles.

With only 16 total receptions in his junior and senior seasons at Miami, Chase was a bit of an unknown prospect until he got noticed after a solid week at the East West Shrine Game. Miami’s tight ends are known for their outstanding athleticism and Chase is no exception. He is a natural pass catcher with fluid body control and good speed for a big body. Chase has huge hands, a tall frame and terrific hand and eye coordination allowing him to snag passes even in tight coverage.

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