From the time Mike Tice mentioned to VU and other media at the draft that he thought rookie Dontarrious Thomas would battle Mike Nattiel for a starting linebacker job, the handwriting seemed on the wall for LB Henri Crockett.
Crockett, who came to the Vikings and was a starter alongside Greg Biekert and Chris Claiborne to start last season, was unceremoniously released last night -- opening the competition for Thomas or Nattiel to become a starter.
Also released was Charles Stackhouse, the only pure fullback on the Vikings veteran roster.
As happened with players like Jack Brewer and Hunter Goodwin earlier this offseason, both players were released and given an opportunity to hook on with another team.
The ruling on Stackhouse centered on his ability to be a pure fullback in a system that runs the I formation -- which the Vikings don't. The fullback role has been filled in the past by an H-back version of the tight end -- usually Jim Kleinsasser.
The fallout of losing more veteran players in exchange for inexperience and speed is something the Vikings will have to balance heading into the season. But neither Crockett nor Stackhouse apparently fits into the team's plan, so the early release may be a blessing for both of them as opposed to being cut during training camp and scrambling to find work.
* The thin depth at linebacker took another blow Sunday when LB E.J. Henderson injured his knee during Sunday's practice. He is expected to have an MRI today and, if the doctors' fears are confirmed, he may have torn cartilage. If that is the case, he is expected to have surgery immediately and be 100 percent by the time training camp opens.
* Nepotism? The Vikings signed tight end T.J. Cottrell, the son of defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, at the conclusion of minicamp. The signing gives the Vikings 10 players who are either tight ends or H-backs. With two of the four anticipated TE roster spots already claimed by Jermaine Wiggins and Kleinsasser, that leaves eight players fighting for two spots.
* The Raiders aren't happy with the Vikings. When Oakland slapped the franchise tag on CB Charles Woodson, he was guaranteed the salary of the top five paid corners in the league. Because Antoine Winfield's signing bonus was rolled into one year, that tag went from $6.8 million to $8.7 million -- essentially taking an extra $1.9 million away from the already-stretched Oakland salary cap.
* The players have a week off before the next developmental camp, which starts next Monday.
Vikes Cut Crockett, Stackhouse
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