New Positions Being Tested

The Vikings have a great deal of talent in the starting positions, so taking a look at some backups in different situations is a good idea. One player in particular looked pretty good in a new role.

Training camp is a time experiment and find out which players fit which roles. That's exactly what was happening to some players during Tuesday morning's practice in Mankato.

At the top of the list was linebacker Keith Newman, who was actually being used as a pass-rushing defensive end. He showed some good leverage and potential as a left end in nickel situations.

The Vikings may be looking at the possibility of using him there during Kenny Mixon's two-game suspension at the start of the regular season. First-round draft choice Kenechi Udeze continued to work in that role as well, but Newman could be a candidate to see some reps in the first few regular-season games.

Newman has also looked polished as a backup linebacker on the strong side and might also be an option at middle linebacker in an emergency during the regular season.

Two other defenders buried deep on the depth chart in the defensive backfield were trying to make an impression in a different way. Rhett Nelson and Jermaine Mays aren't likely to see the playing field on defense, but each of them was on the first-team coverage units on specials teams, and that is just where they will need to make their mark if they are truly going to have a shot at the 53-man roster.

Another roster bubble player is wide receiver Aaron Hosack, who, like Mays, is a University of Minnesota prospect. Hosack made six or seven standout catches during practice, but he also dropped a more noticeable easy attempt in the end zone.

The Vikings re-signed quarterback Matt Kegel, but he isn't likely to make the team. Third-string quarterback Shaun Hill is having a consistently good camp, and Kegel's signing is simply a protective move to keep the arms of the front-line quarterbacks fresh during a grueling camp.

Lastly, while head coach Mike Tice runs some practices longer than scheduled, wide receiver Randy Moss still has enough energy to jaw. Moss might not be talking to the press much this season, but he sure is talking to his teammates, especially the defensive guys. He's having a ball and it's good to see his competitive nature show up during the grind of training camp.


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