Camp's Over, Roster Battles Aren't

The Vikings are done with camp at Mankato, but the fights to win roster spots are very much ongoing. We look at some of the key battles and who is in the lead.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Mike McMahon and Tarvaris Jackson for the No. 2 quarterback spot — Vikings coach Brad Childress made it clear this spot was up for grabs when Jackson was the second quarterback brought into the game against Pittsburgh last Saturday. The second-round pick impressed in his first two preseason appearances, while McMahon has done little to distinguish himself. McMahon, in fact, struggled against the Steelers, completing only 1 of 7 passes for 42 yards with an interception in three series. He was supposed to complete the second half but was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of J.T. O'Sullivan. McMahon was with Childress last season in Philadelphia and knows this system but that might not matter if Jackson continues to play well.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Fourth-round pick Ray Edwards has passed veteran DeQuincy Scott in the battle for the backup job at right end. Scott will need to have a strong showing for the rest of camp or he could find himself without a job.

  • With Koren Robinson possibly facing a yearlong suspension another receiver spot appears to have opened up. Kevin Kasper's ability on kickoff returns might have given him an edge, but a high ankle sprain has put him on the sideline. The likes of Jason Carter and Aaron Hosack could benefit. Carter caught a touchdown pass in the Vikings' victor over Pittsburgh in the second preseason game. Carter also handled the punt returns.

  • Ciatrick Fason has moved past Mewelde Moore as the backup running back to Chester Taylor, and Fason has a chance to create some more distance now that Moore is out because of a knee injury.

  • The battle for a spot in the nickel got interesting with cornerback Dovonte Edwards nursing injuries to his knee and ankle last week. Long shot Tony Beckham, signed off the street after training camp opened, even saw some time with the first team in passing situations. Second-round cornerback Cedric Griffin likely will push Edwards hardest for that spot. Ronyell Whitaker also could figure into the mix.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: QB Tarvaris Jackson — The second-round pick from Division I-AA Alabama State continues to be far more poised than anyone expected. He was impressive in the Vikings' first two preseason games, completing 16 of 24 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. True, Jackson is unlikely to contribute this season, but he doesn't appear to be as far away as nearly everyone thought.

    ROOKIE REPORT: First-round linebacker Chad Greenway was lost for the season in the Vikings' exhibition opener against Oakland when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while playing on kickoff coverage.

  • Second-round cornerback Cedric Griffin continues to compete for a role in the nickel package. He didn't hurt himself in his preseason debut, picking off a pass against the Raiders.

  • Second-round offensive lineman Ryan Cook is working almost exclusively at right tackle with the second team. Clearly a project, he figures to do nothing more than take up a roster spot this season.

  • Second-round quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was the first quarterback off the bench in the Vikings' second preseason game against Pittsburgh and completed nine of 11 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Has clearly made an impression on the coaching staff and has forced a competition for backup role to veteran Brad Johnson.

  • Fourth-round defensive end Ray Edwards has moved ahead of DeQuincy Scott and is now a member of the second team at right end.

  • Fifth-round safety Greg Blue had six tackles and a sack against the Raiders but also was beat on a 67-yard touchdown pass. Known for his hitting ability, Blue put a monster hit on Steelers receiver Lee Mays near the end of the game.

    INJURY REPORT: LB Chad Greenway has been lost for season with torn anterior cruciate ligament in left knee.

  • CB Dovonte Edwards has been slowed because of a sprained ankle and sore knee.

  • RB Mewelde Moore did not play last Saturday against Pittsburgh because of knee injury.

  • WR Kevin Kasper was wearing a cast and had crutches because of a high ankle sprain.

  • LB Marcus Lawrence missed Steelers game because of a sprained knee ligament.

  • CB Tank Williams out for season because of a broken left kneecap.

  • CB Charles Gordon still recovering from damaged cartilage in his left knee.

  • SS Willie Offord sprained his right wrist in the Vikings' preseason victory over Pittsburgh.

    NOTES

    The Vikings did not make any immediate moves to shore up their receiving corps after Koren Robinson's arrest last week. However, that does not mean the team won't actively look to add to a mix that includes plenty of receivers but no real clear-cut No. 1 guy.

    "I suppose anything is possible, but there's some cost involved," coach Brad Childress said when asked whether a trade was possible. "We continue to look and comb and see who we think is there. Who might be available to be traded? Who's going to come on the waiver wire? That's a nightly ritual."

    Among the higher-profile receivers available on the market are Denver's Ashley Lelie and Oakland's Jerry Porter. Both are unhappy in their current situations. Childress might take his time before adding someone.

    "I'm not inclined at this point in time to get a body just to get a body," Childress said. "Because there are bodies out there. You want a guy that you think is a program fit and might understand something about what we're doing."

  • Chris Kluwe, who had offseason surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, has won the punting job. The Vikings made that official by releasing rookie free agent John Torp last week. Kluwe also will serve as the holder on placekicks for Ryan Longwell.

  • Free-agent linebacker Jason Glenn was signed to take Torp's roster spot. Glenn, who played in all 16 games for Miami last season and finished third on the team with 13 special teams tackles, will add depth now that rookie Chad Greenway has been lost to a season-ending knee injury.

  • With return men Mewelde Moore (knee) and Kevin Kasper (ankle) missing last Saturday's game at Pittsburgh, rookies Wendell Mathis (kick) and Jason Carter (punt) were the Vikings' top returners.


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