Notebook: Week of roster decisions ahead

The Vikings have some interesting roster decisions to make this week, from the quarterback position to inserting previously injured starters to deciding on Greg Childs' future to dealing with multiple injuries at tight end.

The Vikings are officially eliminated from the playoffs. That could be one of the biggest tipping points for personnel decisions as the team approaches the final three games of 2013.

Last week, coach Leslie Frazier indicated the time could be coming when his starting quarterback decision isn't based on who gives the team the best chance to win (in his opinion) and rather would be made with an evaluator's eye toward the future.

Once again, that could leave Matt Cassel drawing the short straw and the reemergence of Josh Freeman as the starter. The factors in that decision are many: Has Freeman shown anything in practice? How is Christian Ponder recovering from his concussion suffered on Dec. 1? Is it fair to sit Cassell after another strong performance?

"I thought he did some good things," Frazier said. "He battled, kept giving us a chance throughout the ballgame under some tough conditions against a good defensive team and I thought he did a lot of good things."

Cassel's 265 yards passing Sunday was the best of the season for a Vikings quarterback, and his 84.9 passer rating on the season is the best on the team. He is also the only quarterback to have a game with more than 240 yards passing and he has four of them. It was also the first time all year the Vikings didn't take a sack.

Cassel has played the good soldier during frustrating times, and he once again didn't cause any waves after Sunday's game.

"I would like to start and, then again, as you well know, it's not my decision," he said. "I just continue to try to get ready to go each and every week. If they tell me I get another opportunity to start this week, I'll be excited and go out there and compete."

The quarterback spot isn't the only place where some interesting decisions will be made.

Safety Harrison Smith is on track to be removed from injured reserve/designated for return and play next Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after suffering a severe case of turf toe on Oct. 13. If he is healthy enough for full-time duty, the Vikings will have to decide if Jamarca Sanford retains his starting spot or Andrew Sendejo, who has played well in Smith's absence, has done enough to continue starting.

At tight end, Kyle Rudolph hasn't started practicing after fracturing a foot on Nov. 3 at Dallas, but he is getting close. The Vikings had expected him to give it a try last week, but he hadn't made enough progress at that point.

They may be hoping for him to improve quickly because John Carlson suffered a concussion Sunday and may not be ready by the Philadelphia game. Given that he has three concussions in three calendar years, the Vikings and Carlson could very well take a cautious approach with the latest one.

The Vikings will also have to make a decision this week with receiver Greg Childs, who has been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He could be placed on season-ending injured reserve or elevated to the active roster.

TOUGH SLEDDING

Adrian Peterson said Thursday he isn't looking forward to playing cold-weather games at TCF Bank Stadium while construction is taking place on the Vikings' new stadium in 2014 and 2015. His opinion isn't likely to change after playing in his first snow game Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and suffering a mid-foot sprain.

Cassel said Sunday's game with heavy snow and sometimes sleet falling for most of the game was some of the worst weather he has endured in a game.

"I believe so. … This was as bad as it gets in terms of footing and constant snow throughout the day," Cassel said.

"The snow finally started to slow down (in the fourth quarter) and you could start to feel your fingers a little bit more and the guys did a tremendous job throughout the day with keeping their feet and also running good routes and keeping their concentration. Both teams struggled with the conditions, the footing, and I think the elements within themselves was a difficult day."

Frazier said "the conditions definitely made a difference."

NOTES

  • The Vikings are officially eliminated from playoff contention. "It's difficult to deal with, especially when there is so much promise at the beginning of the season," Cassel said. "And when it ends up being one of those situations when you are eliminated from the playoffs, and that's the main goal and the main reason why we play this game is to go to the playoffs and win championships, at the same time, we also know that we have three games left. I know the guys in this locker room and nobody is going to be giving it up. We're going to go out there and compete and hopefully go get some wins in these last three games."

  • The Vikings and Ravens combined for the shortest span to score five touchdowns in the last 50 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

  • The Vikings' two-game streak with at least 230 yards rushing came to an end. Only the 1998 San Francisco 49ers were able to do that for three straight games, according to Elias.

  • Cordarrelle Patterson had five receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown. It was the most receiving yards in a game for a Vikings rookie since Randy Moss in 1998, according to NFL Network.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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