The only position that even has what can be considered a frontrunner is the kickoff return man, with running back Maurice Hicks the mostly likely candidate.
"As a veteran in this league that's done it time and time again, and I've mentioned before, he did a good job against us a year ago, certainly if we were going to play tomorrow, he'd be one of the first guys there," said special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro. "But Aundrae Allison got better as the year went on, so I think both those guys are going to be fighting for that job, and it's good that we have some options."
As a member of the San Francisco 49ers last year, Hicks had 63 kickoff returns for 1,502 yards (23.8-yard average). No other 49er had more than five returns. In a Week 14 game, Hicks averaged 34 yards on five returns against the Vikings in 2007.
But one of the surprises of OTAs in the previous three weeks was occasionally seeing star running back Adrian Peterson returning a kick. Last year, Peterson ranked third on the team with 16 kickoff returns and second in average yards per return (25.8), but even with his rising star at the running back position, the Vikings aren't completely abandoning the possibility of him returning kicks, at least not at this early point in the run-up to training camp.
"Adrian Peterson's still a guy that we're going to work back there," Ferraro said. "You saw him back here today. I'm not saying he's going to be back there every time, but he's a guy that people are going to have to realize that we could put him back there at any time. Chester Taylor did it in Baltimore. We're going to rep him some at that position. We're going to keep all of our options open, but we have greater depth and more talent, so I like where we're heading."
Allison led the Vikings as a rookie last year in returns (20), yards (574) and average (28.7), including a 104-yard touchdown.
PUNT RETURN POSITIONING
While the kick-return job at least has a frontrunner, the job for punt returner is much more undecided after the departure of Mewelde Moore to Pittsburgh via free agency. Moore and Bobby Wade essentially spit the duties returning punts last year, with Wade getting 16 returns for 112 yards (7-yard average) and Moore having 13 for 130 yards (10-yard average).
This year, there are a handful of possibilities all vying for the job, with a decent amount of youth.
"There is. We have a lot of options," Ferraro said. "I think you're going to see multiple people back there in the preseason, whether it's Chuck Gordon, whether it's Aundrae Allison, a Bobby Wade, even Bernard Berrian. He could be back there. I mean, probably not in training camp, but he's a guy that's done it and done it at a high level, so we're just going to have to see how it all works out. I like the fact that Chuck is a sure-handed guy. I like certainly Aundrae's quickness and speed. He just needs more reps at it. He's been getting better at it since we've gotten out here. I like where he's going too."
Hicks doesn't sound like a consideration for returning punts.
"No, that's not something that he does," Ferraro said. "Really he's more valuable on that team as a guy that's going to hold up and block for the returner. I'm excited about where he is as a kick returner, but it is a completely a different situation trying to catch a punt versus a kickoff."
Last year, there were four games where either Adrian Peterson or Chester Taylor was inactive with injuries. It worked out nicely that one was always available when the other wasn't. But what about both of them being on the field at the same time?
"We'll do everything we can to make ourselves successful," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "We have two great backs back there. It was a nice 1-2 punch last year. There are times when we'll get them on the field together, but it will all depend on game-plan situations."