There are 80 players currently on the Vikings roster. Of those, it can be argued that 40 (or more) of them have already locked down roster spots. For the other 40 or so, they're battling for roster spots, making those competitions the matchups to watch in a game vs. the Houston Texans that will bear little resemblance to what fans will see when the regular season begins.
If there is a matchup to speak of, it will be those players vs. The Turk – the name given the member of the organization that historically has informed the players being cut that their professional dreams are done with that team. There are several players fighting for spots and most of them won't be on the final 53-man roster. While Thursday's game may seem meaningless to many fans, to these players it is a case of professional life and death.
A running back, Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart have locked down spots and Lorenzo Booker isn't far behind. How many more running backs or fullbacks will the Vikings keep? That is a big question, especially seeing as the team may keep four tight ends, who play a variant of a fullback at times. For guys like Ryan D'Imperio, Tristan Davis, Caleb King and Alexander Robinson, Thursday's game will be crucial, and likely their last on the field with the Vikings.
The same is true at wide receiver, where Greg Camarillo, Devin Aromashodu, Jaymar Johnson, Emmanuel Arceneaux and Juaquin Iglesias are likely battling for just two roster spots. Thursday's game will help forge that final decision.
On the offensive and defensive line, the Vikings currently have 28 players on the roster. It is expected that 10 or more of them won't make the final 53-man roster.
At linebacker, players like Larry Dean, David Herron and Ross Homan are fighting for roster spots that may not even exist, as are defensive backs Brandon Burton, Cord Parks, Mistral Raymond and Marcus Sherels.
Each of these players can make a claim that he belongs on the final roster. Unfortunately the numbers say only some of them will.
Offensively, the Vikings have already committed to three quarterbacks (Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder and Joe Webb), three running backs (Peterson, Gerhart and Booker), three wide receivers (Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins), and likely four tight ends (Visanthe Shiancoe, Kyle Rudolph, Jim Kleinsasser and Jeff Dugan) and six offensive linemen (Steve Hutchinson, Phil Loadholt, John Sullivan, Anthony Herrera, Charlie Johnson and Ryan Cook). Simple "Turk Math" says that 18 spots are already spoken for.
Defensively, seven defensive linemen have already punched their ticket on the roster (Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Brian Robison, Remi Ayodele, Christian Ballard, Everson Griffen and Letroy Guion). At linebacker, five spots are likely already assured (Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson, Kenny Onatolu and Heath Farwell). In the secondary, Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Chris Cook, Husain Abdullah and Jamarca Sanford have added five more secured roster spots, bringing the total up to 17 for the defense and 35 overall.
Throw in three special teams roster spots (Ryan Longwell, Chris Kluwe and Cullen Loeffler) and it is clear that 38 spots have been locked and loaded on 2011 roster – leaving a combination of 42 players remaining to grab 15 available spots.
While Thursday's game may be meaningless to starters and fans alike, with one-third of the players currently on the roster not going to survive Saturday's final cuts, it will be vital to the coaches and the players on the bubble, making their performances the matchup to watch Thursday night.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Final roster decisions: It's a numbers game
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