Vikings' positions of strength, weakness

The Vikings' first regular-season roster of 2011 was formed Saturday, but it's far from the final roster. We take a position-by-position look at what they have and where they could add.

The Vikings finalized (sort of) their 53-man roster Saturday by cutting loose 26 players. However, several of them will likely be re-signed as the teams assemble their practice squad a day after firing more than 800 players.

While the Vikings have 54 players under contract, the final composition of the roster isn't exactly what a lot of people expected. Here's our breakdown of what the Vikings have moving forward.

Quarterbacks (3) – Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb. No surprises here. The biggest question is who will be the No. 2 and No. 3 QB when play begins next Sunday.

Running Backs (3) – Lorenzo Booker, Toby Gerhart, Adrian Peterson. The Vikings have never had such few running backs in the history of the team. The only reason the Vikings don't have a fullback is that they didn't like either of the candidates, but, after making a bid on Jerome Felton only to lose out to Carolina, the roster maneuvering here may not be finished.

Wide Receivers (5) – Devin Aromashodu, Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo, Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins. There were some challenges to the five spots expected to be fought for, but, in the end, the five favorites got the jobs. Don't expect to see any non-injury changes here.

Tight Ends (4) – Jim Kleinsasser, Allen Reisner, Kyle Rudolph, Visanthe Shiancoe. Jeff Dugan being cut was a partial surprise, but the Vikings saw enough in Reisner to view him as a better long-term investment given that both Shiancoe and Kleinsasser are in the final years of their contracts.

Offensive Linemen (10) – Patrick Brown, Jon Cooper, Brandon Fusco, Anthony Herrera, Steve Hutchinson, Charlie Johnson, Phil Loadholt, DeMarcus Love, Seth Olsen, John Sullivan. There is a lot of youth in this group – Loadholt is second only to Hutchinson in career starts and he's only been around two seasons. If the Vikings are going to succeed offensively, they're going to need this group to stand up under new coaching leadership.

Defensive Linemen (10) – Jared Allen, Adrian Awasom, Remi Ayodele, Christian Ballard, Fred Evans, Everson Griffen, Letroy Guion, D'Aundre Reed, Brian Robison, Kevin Williams (suspended for two games). With Pat Williams and Ray Edwards gone for good and Kevin Williams out for the first two games, players like Ballard, Robison and Griffen will be asked to make much bigger contributions. It's hard to imagine the team will go the entire season with 10 defensive linemen, but they may have been hoping to protect a player like Reed from getting claimed as teams were in the process of assembling practice squads. Once that is done, it might be easier to try to slide Reed onto the practice squad. He is most likely to go down when Williams is activated.

Linebackers (5) – Larry Dean, Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson, Kenny Onatolu. Beyond the starters, the only current backups are Dean and Onatolu, neither of whom has more than minimal playing experience, not to mention that Erin Henderson has never been a full-time starter. If there is a player they like on the waiver wire, they might make a move here to add backup help.

Cornerbacks (6) – Asher Allen, Brandon Burton, Chris Cook, Cedric Griffin, Marcus Sherels, Antoine Winfield. If Allen was healthy, the Vikings may have kept just five cornerbacks. Burton is likely more at risk than Sherels, but the Vikings aren't likely to go too long with six CBs on the roster.

Safeties (5) – Husain Abdullah, Eric Frampton, Tyrell Johnson, Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford. Some thought this might come down to Johnson, Frampton or Raymond, but, in the end, they kept them all. In time that may change, but, for now, they're keeping the band together.

Specialists (3) – Chris Kluwe, Cullen Loeffler, Ryan Longwell. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The special teams ain't broke.

With 800 players hitting the open market Saturday, the signings will begin today and practice squads will be formed. For those who survived the cuts that were on the bubble, they can sleep well tonight knowing the team thought enough of them to keep them on the 53-man roster. However, they may not be able to rest easy until they're getting on a plane for San Diego Saturday. A lot could potentially change between now and then.

SUNDAY NOTES

  • The league handed down suspensions to nine potential free agents if and when they are ever signed for violations of league policies. Among them were former Viking Pat Williams, who got two games for the StarCaps incident, and Vinny Ciurciu, who has bounced around the league after spending a couple of seasons with the Vikings. Ciurciu got four games.

  • In the on-again, off-again relationship between Chester Taylor and the Bears, it's off again. After telling him they were releasing and subsequently holding out on that move in hopes of trading him, Taylor was among the Bears' cuts Saturday.

  • Former Vikings utility lineman Artis Hicks, who, like Taylor, signed a big free-agent contract to leave the Vikings in 2010, was released by the Redskins Saturday.

  • Sage Rosenfels, a veteran QB who had to go when Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson claimed two roster spots and Joe Webb was too intriguing to risk putting on the practice squad, was placed on season-ending injured reserve by the Giants Saturday with a back injury.

  • The Giants also released Darius Reynaud, whom they acquired in trade the same day they got Rosenfels from the Vikings in trade a year ago.

  • As of breakfast Saturday, there were three Gronkowski brothers on NFL rosters. As of supper there was one. Dallas released fullback Chris Gronkowski, while Denver cut tight end Dan Gronkowski. The only surviving Gronkowski was Rob, a tight end for the Patriots who caught 10 touchdowns his rookie season last year.

  • Former Vikings running back Albert Young was among the Jaguars' final cuts.


    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.


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  • The league handed down suspensions to nine potential free agents if and when they are ever signed for violations of league policies. Among them were former Viking Pat Williams, who got two games for the StarCaps incident, and Vinny Ciurciu, who has bounced around the league after spending a couple of seasons with the Vikings. Ciurciu got four games.
  • In the on-again, off-again relationship between Chester Taylor and the Bears, it's off again. After telling him they were releasing and subsequently holding out on that move in hopes of trading him, Taylor was among the Bears' cuts Saturday.
  • Former Vikings utility lineman Artis Hicks, who, like Taylor, signed a big free-agent contract to leave the Vikings in 2010, was released by the Redskins Saturday.
  • Sage Rosenfels, a veteran QB who had to go when Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson claimed two roster spots and Joe Webb was too intriguing to risk putting on the practice squad, was placed on season-ending injured reserve by the Giants Saturday with a back injury.
  • The Giants also released Darius Reynaud, whom they acquired in trade the same day they got Rosenfels from the Vikings in trade a year ago.
  • As of breakfast Saturday, there were three Gronkowski brothers on NFL rosters. As of supper there was one. Dallas released fullback Chris Gronkowski, while Denver cut tight end Dan Gronkowski. The only surviving Gronkowski was Rob, a tight end for the Patriots who caught 10 touchdowns his rookie season last year.
  • Former Vikings running back Albert Young was among the Jaguars' final cuts.
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