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Three Dark Horses Make The Roster, But Can They Stick?

Chase Baker, George Johnson and Troy Kropog were long shots to make the roster just four weeks ago, but hard work and consistent effort paid off for these young players.

 Chase Baker might have the best chance to stick. The undrafted rookie from Boise State had 11 tackles during preseason working on the inside of the defensive line. Standing at 6-1 298 pounds, Baker has just enough meat on his bones to earn a few snaps as a backup rotational depth player this season. During camp and preseason, he has been asked to learn the three-technique position while also staying focused on the nose tackle spot as well. Jared Allen said, “He has probably grown the most of all the young guys I’ve seen in camp. That is good because he just might be asked to play a role on this team. We’re hurting at D-tackle right now.” 

Lady luck has been on Baker’s side as Christian Ballard left the team for personal reasons, Sheriff Floyd and Kevin Williams have been banged up a bit which opened the door for Baker to get plenty of reps needed to win a roster spot. After spending his rookie year on the practice squad, Baker might be ready to take the next step in 2013.

George Johnson, the 6-4 265 pound 4th year DE beat out D’Aundre Reed and Lawrence Jackson to win the 4th and final DE roster spot. Johnson was promoted to the Vikings 53 man roster in late December of 2012 and has impressed the coaches enough this off-season to make the final cut in 2013. In 2010, Johnson was signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers. Johnson worked his way up to playing in 2 games for the Buccaneers in 2011 before an injury put him on IR. Johnson looks to build on his 7 total career NFL tackles. Johnson’s 5 solo tackle in preseason lead all Vikings’ DEs, but in the regular season he will have a hard time taking snaps away from Jared Allen, Brian Robison or Everson Griffen.

Troy Kropog won the swing tackle position, at least for the next four weeks until DeMarcus Love comes back from his suspension. The 6-6 308 pound tackle from Tulane has been in the NFL for 4 years. Kropog was drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Vikings promoted Kropog from the practice squad to the 53 man roster last season when Percy Harvin was placed on IR. Kropog has played in 7 games with 0 starts in his NFL career. It will be interesting to see what the Vikings do with the backup tackle position in the next few weeks. Will Kropog stick when Love comes back, or will the Vikings look to upgrade the backup tackle position by signing a free agent? Frazier had talked about finding a swing tackle in the 2012 draft, but that did not appear to have happened. Was that just a smoke screen? Do the Vikings have confidence in Love or Kropog? Stay tuned… I don’t think this story has reached the final page.

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Carl Knowles

Carl Knowles (Contributor) is a former member of the Professional Bowler Association and an avid lifelong Vikings fan. When he is not bowling you can find him on websites and forum pages sharing his creative insight and enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings any chance he gets. Carl was a Phoenix Institute of Technology and Purdue University standout who currently enjoys the challenge of being a graphic director in the printing business. You can follow him on twitter @carlknowles_vt.

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  1. Looks like Kropog is the first to fall. Vikes claimed J’Marcus Webb off waivers from the Bears. Could be a very good and sneaky move by Spielman.

    1. Kropog? Kropog? All things considered, it’s probably better not to have a Kropog.

  2. i saw that seth olsen was put on IR, but haven’t seen many details about it, just that he was walking around after the game, so no paralysis, but he had a concussion. is that reason enough to put a guy on IR and end his season before it starts? i don’t think so. gotta be more to the story than that

    anyway, getting webb helps the desire for another tackle, but how good can he be if he’s a cast off from the bears? saw that he was an ok run blocker, but we need him to pass protect, too, as loadholt’s strength is already as a run blocker

  3. Here is the Vikes practice squad so far:

    RB Joe Banyard
    OL Travis Bond,
    DT Everett Dawkins
    TE Chase Ford
    T Kevin Murphy
    WR Rodney Smith
    WR Adam Thielen.

    Still have one opening.

  4. They must see something in Thielen. Freds didn’t think this boy had a chance. Obviously he didn’t have much college experience, but they must like him. Perhaps give the kid a year to pound a bunch of HGH and he might just have a shot!

    Don’t tell Freds we have now 2 Webb football players on the team!… Fantastic!

  5. According to Arif Hanson, Kropog was cut to make room for the other J Webb.
    Because Kropog has been active for less than 9 regular season games, he is eligible for the final practice squad spot.

    Wow, sorry Mr. Kropog if I brought on some bad luck with this article.

  6. so I finally got around to changin’ my “Dugan Forever” tattoo
    acceptance ……. the final stage of the grieving process

    it’s now “Druggin’ Forever”, not my first choice but my budget was only $10.00

    Sure hope the Vikings draft some referee ass kicking backup TE named Druggin next year

    1. Ole, my friend…..I wouldah chipped in ten dollah…couldah done “Kruggin Forever”…..never was a football player but I am in the “Surfboard Sales To Large Howlie Female Tourists” hall of fame!

      Hope all is well…..I doo miss the ocean!

    2. Damn I wish I knew! I have bags of empty beer cans I could have given you to recycle to make some extra coin for your tattoo alterations.

    3. good choice. make sure you show that to your parole officer and rehab counselor, they’ll love it

    1. Ole…
      Q: Since you have been in the NFL which teammate has taught you the most/been the biggest role model?

      Adrian Peterson: Antoine Winfield and Jeff Dugan. Dugs was professional. He got it done. Guy that wasn’t extremely talented but the work he put in was inspiring for football. Catching balls every day after practice. Small things. When I first got in, just watching him answering so many questions. He was so particular with his details and making he had the right blocks on everything.

      Read more:

  7. I’m kinda surprised Webb wasn’t claimed by someone higher on the priority list. Young OT’s with his size and starting experience just don’t become available that often. Add into that he’s from a division foe and I would say that’s a solid score. Both Burton’s were claimed, the Bill’s must have liked what they saw of Brandon in our pre-season game. It was already mentioned that Stephen landed with the Jags who seem to like our offensive castoffs (Reisner, Todman). VU says Reed was put on IR with Felder so they will retain his rights as well. The worst news of the day is that the Lions claimed Adrian Peterson knee hunting safety Dejon Gomes.

    1. latest bulletin board announcement at the vikings locker room:

      – see AD for cash payment (legality of hit checked by jared allen, confirmed by refs, bounty OK’d by the commish)

      two games this year to get that sukka, if he’s even in the games

  8. Packers choose Seneca Wallace at backup QB. That could be the greatest gap between starting and backup in the history of NFL. Wait… Favre-Jackson. Make that the second greatest gap.