Tuesday, October 13, 2015

lex hilliard

Today, the Vikings have the always difficult task of trimming their roster down to 53 players. A week or so ago, the Vikings made the jump from 90 to 75. The players cut in the first round are listed below. Today, though, we are focused on the final cuts that will fit the roster within the NFL’s roster requirements.

I’ll do my best to keep up with the cuts as they come. Keep checking back for more.

(Edit: The official announcement of cuts has been made by the Vikings. See the list below for the players who were released/waived today)

First round:

  • Bridger Buche, Guard
  • Derrick Coleman, Running Back,
  • Grant Cook, Guard
  • Solomon Elimimian, Linebacker
  • Corey Gatewood, Cornerback
  • Levi Horn, Offensive Tackle
  • Anthony Jacobs, Defensive Tackle
  • Kamar Jorden, Wide Receiver
  • A.J. Love, Wide Receiver
  • Tyler Nielsen, Linebacker
  • Ernest Owusu, Defensive End
  • Tydreke Powell, Defensive Tackle
  • Chris Stroud, Cornerback
  • Kerry Taylor, Wide Receiver
  • Bryan Walters, Wide Receiver

Today’s Cuts:

  • Ryan D’Imperio, Fullback
  • Chris DeGeare, Offensive Guard
  • Emmanuel Arceneaux, Wide Receiver
  • Nick Reed, Defensive End
  • Jeff Charleston, Defensive End
  • Trevor Guyton, Defensive Tackle (rookie)
  • Lex Hilliard, Running Back
  • Kevin Murphy, Offensive Tackle
  • Sage Rosenfels, Quarterback
  • Jordan Todman, Running Back
  • Chris Carr, Cornerback
  • Eric Frampton, Safety
  • Chase Baker, Defensive Tackle
  • Bobby Felder, Cornerback
  • Tyler Holmes, Offensive Guard
  • Reggie Jones, Cornerback
  • Corey Parades, Linebacker
  • Austin Pasztor, Offensive Guard
  • Quentin Saulsberrry, Center
  • Mickey Shuler, Tight End

Placed on IR:

  • DeMarcus Love, Offensive Tackle

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In their first preseason game, the Vikings looked just okay as they traveled to San Francisco to play the 49ers. Last week, in their second preseason game, the Vikings looked much, much improved. You know what? I’ll just say it: The Vikings looked great against the Bills at home. This week, the Vikings will get another chance to show that they are an improved unit when they host the Chargers tonight at Mall of America Field.

As it is the third preseason game, the starters will likely play an entire half. (And maybe even a drive into the second half.) We should get a really good idea of what our team could look like come the first regular season game September 9th. With that being said, I just found out this morning that neither Phillip Rivers or Antonio Gates will be starting for the Chargers so our defense will be working against backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

So, as we head into the game tonight, here are some things I’ll be specifically looking for. Don’t forget to check back here sometime after the game for my notes and analysis.

Can Christian Ponder keep it up?

I know this probably seems like a cop-out. And I know you’re probably tired of hearing us talk about on VT about how this year is about Ponder. Blah, blah, blah… But really, Ponder had a great game last week. It was very, very impressive in my opinion. And since tonight’s game will be the preseason game that is most like a regular game, I’ll be watching him closely again. Almost as a confirmation that what we saw last week wasn’t some sort of fluke or something. The poise he showed in the pocket. The decisions he made. The way he went through his reads and directed hot routes at the line. Those are all things that I want to see again tonight through the first half.

I’ll also be watching to see how he does with Jerome Simpson being on the field less. Leslie Frazier said earlier this week in a press conference that the Vikings were going to start throttling his involvement because of his three game suspension at the beginning of the regular season. All indications at this point are that Ponder and Simpson seem to have a pretty good connection and have done well together. It will be interesting to see what happens when Simpson is absent and another wide receiver (Aromashodu?) needs to step up.

Audie Cole and Jarius Wright

Kind of two different stores with these guys so far, huh? On one hand, you have Audie Cole who has been very splashy so far in preseason. Last week he had two interceptions returned for touchdowns (within 17 seconds of one another). The prior week he had a sack against the 49ers. Jarius Wright, on the other hand, has been incredibly quiet. He hasn’t had a single reception and has only returned one punt for decent yardage.

I’ll be looking for Audie Cole to show more this week. While I doubt he’ll get much playing time in the first half, if he can come out in the second half and make some big plays again, I think it is a lock that he will make the roster.

Jarius Wright just needs to show some sign of life if he is going to make this team. I was high on the Wright pick in this year’s draft and I’m really hoping he turns out to be a weapon for this team. Hopefully, in the second half of tonight’s game he can come down with a few grabs and/or show some of that speed on a punt return.

Who will be RB3?

There are a lot of names in the basket for the third running back spot on the roster. The Vikings Age pointed out that Rick Spielman has said he would prefer the third running back to be a running back/full back hybrid. While you would think Lex Hilliard would fill that role quite nicely, he hasn’t really shown anything in the preseason to solidify his place. Matt Asiata, on the other hand, looked really good last week against the Bills (as I mentioned in last week’s notes and analysis). If he can come out and have another really good game, I definitely think he deserves consideration for the role.

Other quick notes

  • There is a battle going on at the tight end position. With John Carlson out with an injury, other guys like Allen Reisner, Mickey Shuler and rookie Rhett Ellison have been stepping up. One of them will probably end up getting cut in the next couple of weeks, though. Who will it be?
  • Is Erin Henderson really being pushed by Marvin Mitchell for the Will spot? I’ll be watching these two tonight.
  • Chris Carr will get to start in place of Chris Cook who is out with concussion concerns. Carr has looked pretty bad so far in preseason. Can he improve tonight as a starter?
  • Who will get the nod at backup quarterback tonight? Joe Webb has looked ghastly in preseason so far. Does he get another shot tonight or does the team decide to give veteran Sage Rosenfels a shot for the QB2 position?


Football season is nearly here which means I am once again allowed to write about things that are, you know… interesting.  My old pal Darren Campbell from Kick Ass Blog asked me to do a little Q&A session with him and, of course, I was thrilled to do so.

We did six total jottings about various subjects.  There are three in this post and the other three can be found at his blog by clicking here.

4. Jerome Simpson – what will his stats be at the end of the season?

Adam: Should his stats be measured in yards or ounces?


All kidding aside, it is hard to get overly excited about a guy that will play no more than 13 games during the regular season. Heck, if this season turns out anything like last year, the franchise could be in complete shambles by the time he is even allowed to play.

He certainly has an ability to stretch the field and adds in some jaw dropping athleticism, but consistency has always been his issue. The drops need to stop. I’m going to be optimistic here, however, and say that he tops 800 yards on the season and throws in two or three touchdowns.

Darren: Oh, Adam, way to pick the low hanging fruit. I’m penciling Simpson in for 49 catches, 680 yards and five touchdowns. Not fantastic numbers, but enough to earn him a long-term contract in 2013 (whether that will be with the Vikings is another question). Like Adam said, consistency is an issue with Simpson. And is he physically strong enough to beat jams off the line and get open to make those big plays down the field for the Vikings? This team really needs a wide receiver (other than Percy Harvin, who is a completely different kind of player) they can pencil in for five-to-seven catches for 80-100 receiving yards every game. I see Simpson as the kind of player who will have some big games, but in other games will disappear.

5. What rookie has been the most impressive during training camp and the preseason?

Adam: It is hard to argue with Audie Cole at this point. A Vikings defender that takes advantage of bad throws? Then has the presence of mind to return it for a score?  Twice? In back-to-back plays?  Again, a Vikings defender?

That is just unheard of in recent years and I have to say those two plays alone have made him stand out more than any other rookie, including Kalil and Smith, and I hope he gets a chance to move up the depth chart to see if he can hang with the elite talent or not.

Darren: I like Cole, but kicker Blair Walsh has been the Vikings rookie who has looked the best to me. I did not like this pick at all in April. It’s hard for me to diss it now. He’s made, what, eight of nine field goals and he’s consistently booting kickoffs five-to-10 yards into the end zone – a nice change after watching Ryan Longwell’s kickoffs barely make it to the opposing team’s 20-yard line for six years. Walsh has been better than advertised. I do wonder, though, how he will react if he has a stretch where he misses three or four makeable field goals over a short period. Will he get the yips? That’s my concern with Walsh right now.

6. What unheralded Viking player has stood out the most so far?

Adam: I have only ever known two Dolphins fans in my life, but they both happen to be my best friends.  So, as a result, I have seen a Fins game or two over the years. That is why I was somewhat excited to hear that the Vikings had signed Lex Hilliard.

Hilliard had always struck me as an underrated back with some deceiving moves and nifty hands that was underutilized in Miami because of their addiction to the Wild Cat. To me, he appears to be the exact sort of Mr. Dependable that the Vikings need in their backfield as an insurance policy and a nice change up from time to time. His versatility is something Spielman surely considered when signing him, and I consider him a lock to make the roster at this point, which makes me feel pretty comfortable with the run game even with Peterson still on the mend.

Darren: I’m surprised to read that Adam thinks Hilliard’s stood out because I think he’s looked like garbage. There’s no burst there. No wiggle. No anything. I understand he’s a solid special teams player, but even giving him that, at this point I wouldn’t want to see him make the team. Matt Asiata looks much better to me as an option as the Vikings third running back.

But rather than continuing to rag on Adam’s selection, I should write about my own. Defensive end Nick Reed is a guy who has surprised me in the two preseason games. He’s tipped a couple of passes and against the Bills he consistently generated pressure from the outside. He’s bounced around the league a bit, and at 6’2 and 250, he’s pretty small even for a pass rushing DE. I don’t expect him to make the team; all I know is I’m noticing him every time he’s on the field. He might be a guy worth stashing on the practice squad. You can never have too many DEs who can get after the quarterback.

Free agency took off like a rocket. We were all anxious for what the Vikings would do. After all, they had a good chunk of cap room available. There were also rumors floating around from the combine that the team was going to be very active. And, let’s face it; there weren’t any shortage of holes to fill.

But nothing happened on that first day. The Vikings were quiet… Eerily quiet. Fans were not. Almost immediately, people were calling for Spielman’s head. How could he not acquire Vincent Jackson. How could he not get Pierre Garcon? How could we just sit on so much money when there so many voids to fill in this team to make it a contender again?

Finally, the Vikings started making some moves. Now, that’s not to say fans pulled back and gave Spielman some breathing room. The acquisitions were questionable… Questionable players signed to deals for amounts that were somewhat puzzling to most fans. We were signing people who were injured (and hadn’t played in a year), fullbacks, and… point guards.

While the offseason is far from over, two weeks in, we now have a fair amount of information to look at and develop more comprehensive opinions on how the team has done. What I wanted to do here is recap what the Vikings have done so far this offseason while giving my personal opinion of each move and an overall grade. If you’re ready (it’s long!), continue reading by clicking the button below.

The battle for backup running back and starting fullback may not be the most exciting one when training camp rolls around, but the Vikings are making sure there will be plenty of competition.

A couple of days after signing Lex Hilliard to a one year contract, the Vikings have now announced the addition of fullback Jerome Felton. 

A 2008 fifth round selection by the Lions, Felton figures to compete for a roster spot at age 25.  He had spent three seasons with the Lions, playing in 42 games before being waived in 2011.  He was claimed by the Panthers and then later in the season joined the Colts.

Felton joins a running back squad that consists of the following:  Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Lex Hilliard, Matt Asiata, and Ryan D’Imperio.  It might be safe to assume that no bruising backs are targeted on Draft weekend, and that we should instead keep our eye on any quick, speedy scat backs in the later rounds.

Terms of Felton’s deal are not yet known.

The Vikings also officially announced the re-signing of Letroy Guion on Tuesday, a move that we knew was coming for a week.

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