Key Roster Battles Evolving

The first mass roster cutdown is exactly one week away. Find out who is looking good in the key battles for the final spots on the roster.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK

Darrion Scott vs. Chuck Wiley for the starting left defensive end position during the first two weeks of the season. The NFL hasn't announced it yet, but it would be a shock if starting LE Kenny Mixon isn't suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Mixon started the first two preseason games, but this week the team will focus on auditions for his replacement against Dallas on Sept. 12 and Philadelphia Sept. 20.

The leading candidate going into camp was Scott, the third-round draft pick with a mean streak coach Mike Tice loves. Scott showed up eight pounds overweight and has had a terrible camp. That moved veteran Chuck Wiley to the front of the pack the past three weeks. But Tice wants to give Scott the first crack with the first-team this week.

Wiley has the experience and is in good shape, but his talent is average. If neither player seizes the position, the Vikings might have to move rookie Kenechi Udeze from RE to LE and play pass-rushing specialist Lance Johnstone on every down.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS

  • Long snapper: Rookie free agent Cullen Loeffler will get a second consecutive week with the first unit. Tice said not to interpret that as a sign Loeffler has moved ahead of incumbent Brody Liddiard.

  • Third tight end: Second-year pro Richard Angulo has made a hard charge for the No. 3 tight end spot. The Vikings will keep four and use three on several occasions. Sean Berton was the favorite for the No. 3 spot going into camp, but the 6-8 Angulo has been impressive.

  • Sixth receiver: Barring injury, the sixth receiver is only a special teams player. Ben Nelson might be leading the pack there after a standout night on special teams in Atlanta.

  • Sixth offensive lineman: The Vikings have been searching for a dependable sixth offensive lineman since not re-signing Everett Lindsay and then releasing Lewis Kelly in training camp. Adam Haayer took the lead early and took some of the snaps with the first team at right guard in Atlanta. Adam Goldberg is Haayer's stiffest competition. Goldberg will get some work with the first team this week.

  • Practice squad defensive tackle: A spot on the practice squad is not looking good for former WWE champion Brock Lesnar. Lesnar has worked very hard in training camp, but the speed of the game has blown past him as he tries to catch up after having not played since his senior year at Webster High in South Dakota. Rookie free agent Spencer Johnson looks much more qualified for a spot on the practice squad than Lesnar.

    ROOKIE REPORT

  • RB-KR Mewelde Moore's stock is rising substantially. The fourth-round pick is poised to assume the No. 2 running back position if Onterrio Smith has to serve a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Smith has appealed the ruling. Moore, who already is a returner on first-team kick return, also is closing in on Keenan Howry's No. 1 punt return job. Moore is quicker and faster than Howry, but has to prove his hands are as good as Howry's on punt returns.

  • DE Darrion Scott will work with the first-team defense this week. He will be given the first opportunity to replace LE Kenny Mixon during his two-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

    Scott reported to camp eight pounds overweight and has not impressed the coaching staff up to this point.

  • LB Rod Davis has moved from third-string to second-string at MLB. He was credited with a team-high five tackles, including a sack, in the 27-24 loss at Atlanta on Friday. The fifth-round draft pick has been a pleasant surprise, but still needs a lot of work when it comes to learning the defense and communicating it to teammates before the snap.


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