The Vikings are a little less than two months away from the start of training camp, but it's never too early to break down the anticipated position battles. While most of the positions on the depth chart are taking shape, there will be some spots up for competition.
Quarterback – Matt Cassel is expected to be the starter to open the season, but Teddy Bridgewater is likely going to push him and force Cassel to look over his shoulder. Considering that a year ago the Vikings were looking at a make-or-break season for Christian Ponder as the starting QB, a lot has changed. Add to that a new coaching staff and there may actually be a three-man competition in camp and during the preseason. At least Ponder is hoping he can involve himself in the competition.
Guard – Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco return as the incumbent starters, but one or both could be pushed for their starting job. Rookie David Yankey is likely going to make a strong push to supplant one of them and, if Jeff Baca improves as expected, there will be more competition at the position that might initially meet the eye.
Wide Receiver – Greg Jennings is penned in as a starter, but the other spot is up for grabs. Given his explosiveness last season, Cordarrelle Patterson is the frontrunner to land the other starting job, but Jerome Simpson is likely to make a push to stay on the field. Given his big-play ability, Simpson won't surrender his playing time without a fight. Jarius Wright is also making a case for increased time with good offseason practices.
Defensive Tackle – Last year, Kevin Williams and Letroy Guion were the starters. Williams and Guion are gone. As things currently stand, it appears that Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph are the frontrunners to be the starters, but there will be competition at both spots and nothing is certain. Floyd and Joseph have been penciled in, but pencils have erasers for a reason.
Linebacker – Chad Greenway and Anthony Barr are both expected to be starters on the outside, but the middle linebacker spot is still a question mark. Audie Cole finished the season as the starter last year, but Mike Mauti and Jasper Brinkley are both going to make a case that they should be the starter. This one likely will play out during the preseason before a starter is announced.
Cornerback – Xavier Rhodes is set at one starting spot and Captain Munnerlyn is slated to be the third corner in the slot. Is Josh Robinson ready to be a full-time starter on the outside? That's another unanswered question at this point and far from a guarantee.
Safety – Harrison Smith is good to go at strong safety, but Jamarca Sanford may be facing the battle of his football life. The Vikings have added depth at safety and Sanford, who accepted a pay cut to remain with the team, is far from a lock to hold down the strong safety position. Anything can happen there with plenty of competition emerging from the shadows.
With the changes the Vikings have made, there are a number of spots that are likely locked up. But, as training camp nears, there is going to be a fair share of starting battles that may not be decided until mid to late August, which should make the preseason more interesting than normal for the Vikings and their fans.
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.
Battles will be brewing at training camp
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