In the organizational scheme of things, Jerome Felton took a called second strike Monday.
When the Vikings signed Felton last year, it seemed a little curious. The only fullback Adrian Peterson liked was Tony Richardson in his rookie season – and that was more of a Mr. Miyagi/Karate Kid relationship than the need for a pace car in front of the Porsche.
Felton had legitimate fullback credentials, but given the franchise player's disdain for running behind fullbacks – which can never be underestimated – it was an organizational gamble on providing Peterson with a bodyguard he showed no inclination of wanting.
The road Felton helped plow in 2012 was 2,097 yards long. However, shortly after being signed, Felton was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Had the team not had the confidence in him that the Vikings did, Felton would have been a casualty before he ever cashed a game check. The team had a plan. The plan worked out. Strike One went away.
On Monday, Strike Two hit. Felton, who has been laid low by appendectomy surgery for the remainder of the preseason, will get three more weeks to get up to game speed. He was suspended Monday for violation of the league's substance of abuse policy – or, at it was referred to in a league memo Monday "Abuse of Substances" policy.
The league holds its positive-test result on Felton very close to its $700 vest inside of its $6,000 suit and it feels no obligation to share its methodology outside the family. This time, Strike Two essentially came before Strike One. With a previous DUI, the league's suspension on Monday was the result of his 2012 DUI being his second one and the appeals process with the NFL simply taking that long to exhaust itself.
Whether Monday's announcement has any bearing on Felton's future with the Vikings remains to be seen, but all signs from Winter Park are that, when the Vikings go to London for a home game, Felton will be on the plane – but Strike Two has sailed right by Felton like a phantom blitzing linebacker.
The Vikings hope Felton's suspension won't impact what they hope to execute on offense, but it can't be underestimated how many times in the NFL a train pulls out of the station and players left behind have a hard time catching up. If things go fine without Felton, the Vikings will face a conundrum in Week 4. Do you cut someone to add Felton back to the roster? Peterson may end up holding the key to the final resolution of that question. Three games when wins and losses count are vital.
FORMER VIKINGS CUT
The standard rule of thumb is that players cut in the first round of roster trimming are unlikely to hook on with another team. A pair of former Vikings receivers were among those over the past couple days. The Bears let Devin Aromashodu go, as did the Ravens with former Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. While both may still have an NFL career in front of them, it will now entail waiting by the phone for a call that may never come.
Other, less established former Vikings were also let go: Arizona released WR Nicholas Edwards, Jacksonville released OL Mark Asper and Tampa Bay released DE Ernest Owusu.
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.
Holler: Felton in precarious position
Viking Update Top Stories
Vikings training camp autograph scheduleThe Minnesota Vikings have announced their training camp autograph schedule for 2017.
Viking Update6:07 AM
NFC North Rankings: Offensive linemenIn 2015, all four teams in the NFC North thought they had the pieces on their offensive line to carry them to the end of the decade. A lot has changed the last two years.
Viking Update5:34 AM
Vikings make pre-camp roster movesThe Minnesota Vikings made a bottom-of-the-roster release and signing on Friday, but they might not be done.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 12:46 PM
NFC North Rankings: Tight endsThe crop of tight ends in the NFC North has been formulated under two very different approaches, with varied levels of success.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 5:29 AM