Analysis: Practice Squad Priorities

The Vikings trimmed down their roster on Saturday and can build the practice squad Sunday afternoon to eight players. Here is our take on the discussions in the personnel meetings and the players we think deserve another shot to develop.

The Vikings can begin establishing their eight-man practice squad on Sunday afternoon, and more than likely there will be a few players on that squad that spent the preseason with other teams. Here is a look at five or six spots that could be filled with players you already got to know this offseason.

RB Albert Young: The Vikings have a solid group of three running backs on the roster with Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor and Maurice Hicks. Young had a 3.3-yard average on 39 preseason carries and averaged 24.4 yards on five kickoff returns. He isn't a speedy back by NFL standards, but he shows the potential to get it done with time to develop, and he has some special-teams return ability.

WR Jaymar Johnson vs. Darius Reynaud: Johnson is the sixth-round pick, the Vikings' final selection of the 2008 draft, and had only two catches in the preseason, but he showed some promise as a punt returner, averaging 12 yards on six returns. While he led the team in that category, he didn't do as well returning kickoffs, averaging 19.5 yards on four returns. Johnson is a skinnier player than Reynaud, but both seem to have some short-area quickness. Reynaud looked more aggressive and certain on kickoff returns, but as a receiver his lack of height and stockier build might hurt him. We give a slight edge to Johnson here as a receiver, and injuries to Reynaud during the offseason didn't help his cause.

G Brian Daniels vs. Chase Johnson: Daniels practiced and played well during the preseason, and he could have easily made the 53-man roster. Maybe it was his lack of versatility – he only played guard – that didn't allow him a roster spot, but we think he deserves a shot at the practice squad to build up more strength and experience. With what he learned last year, if injuries have an effect, he could be a midseason call-up to offer depth at the position. Johnson spent more time on the active roster last year than Daniels, but the coaching staff had hinted that Johnson wasn't making consistent progress this offseason. With the four-game suspension of Bryant McKinnie to start the season, Marcus Johnson made the team with more experience, but once McKinnie returns the Vikings will have to decide on a player to release – that could come down to Marcus Johnson or Drew Radovich. Meanwhile, having a young player like Daniels or Chase Johnson on the practice squad would offer some insurance. Although he isn't a tackle, Daniels seems to have more consistency at his position.

OL Tim Mattran: He had gotten work at center, guard and tackle. He showed he probably isn't a left tackle, but he might have a chance to develop at any of the other four spots on the line. If he does make it, it will be his attitude, intelligence and versatility that combine to give him another shot at the NFL. The Vikings would have to have some patience to develop him and let him learn at one position, but he seems to have the physical attributes for the job.

DL Leger Douzable vs. Martail Burnett: Douzable has some versatility, which is always a plus on the defensive line. He can play both the three-technique, the position manned by Kevin Williams, and defensive end. He had seven tackles in the preseason, so we give him the nod over Burnett. Another undrafted rookie, the Vikings were originally high on Burnett and gave him one of the highest signing bonuses of the free-agent rookies. However, he never really flashed during the preseason, getting just two tackles and no sacks, another reason to pick Douzable, the more versatile of the two.

LB Rufus Alexander vs. J. Leman: Alexander is the 2007 sixth-round pick working his way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last preseason and admitted he didn't quite have all of his burst back yet. More time to make that recovery could help him to become a factor down the line. Leman, the training-camp roommate of Erin Henderson, has a good attitude, but we believe giving Alexander more time to recover from his knee surgery could prove wise in the long run.

CB Marcus Walker vs. Brandon Sumrall: Walker had a solid preseason, but just like Sumrall ran into a deep and more veteran defensive backfield. Both had flashes of potential during the preseason, but, from what we saw, Walker looks like more of a pure cornerback.



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","mobileBody":"The Vikings can begin establishing their eight-man practice squad on Sunday afternoon, and more than likely there will be a few players on that squad that spent the preseason with other teams. Here is a look at five or six spots that could be filled with players you already got to know this offseason.

RB Albert Young: The Vikings have a solid group of three running backs on the roster with Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor and Maurice Hicks. Young had a 3.3-yard average on 39 preseason carries and averaged 24.4 yards on five kickoff returns. He isn't a speedy back by NFL standards, but he shows the potential to get it done with time to develop, and he has some special-teams return ability.

WR Jaymar Johnson vs. Darius Reynaud: Johnson is the sixth-round pick, the Vikings' final selection of the 2008 draft, and had only two catches in the preseason, but he showed some promise as a punt returner, averaging 12 yards on six returns. While he led the team in that category, he didn't do as well returning kickoffs, averaging 19.5 yards on four returns. Johnson is a skinnier player than Reynaud, but both seem to have some short-area quickness. Reynaud looked more aggressive and certain on kickoff returns, but as a receiver his lack of height and stockier build might hurt him. We give a slight edge to Johnson here as a receiver, and injuries to Reynaud during the offseason didn't help his cause.

G Brian Daniels vs. Chase Johnson: Daniels practiced and played well during the preseason, and he could have easily made the 53-man roster. Maybe it was his lack of versatility – he only played guard – that didn't allow him a roster spot, but we think he deserves a shot at the practice squad to build up more strength and experience. With what he learned last year, if injuries have an effect, he could be a midseason call-up to offer depth at the position. Johnson spent more time on the active roster last year than Daniels, but the coaching staff had hinted that Johnson wasn't making consistent progress this offseason. With the four-game suspension of Bryant McKinnie to start the season, Marcus Johnson made the team with more experience, but once McKinnie returns the Vikings will have to decide on a player to release – that could come down to Marcus Johnson or Drew Radovich. Meanwhile, having a young player like Daniels or Chase Johnson on the practice squad would offer some insurance. Although he isn't a tackle, Daniels seems to have more consistency at his position.

OL Tim Mattran: He had gotten work at center, guard and tackle. He showed he probably isn't a left tackle, but he might have a chance to develop at any of the other four spots on the line. If he does make it, it will be his attitude, intelligence and versatility that combine to give him another shot at the NFL. The Vikings would have to have some patience to develop him and let him learn at one position, but he seems to have the physical attributes for the job.

DL Leger Douzable vs. Martail Burnett: Douzable has some versatility, which is always a plus on the defensive line. He can play both the three-technique, the position manned by Kevin Williams, and defensive end. He had seven tackles in the preseason, so we give him the nod over Burnett. Another undrafted rookie, the Vikings were originally high on Burnett and gave him one of the highest signing bonuses of the free-agent rookies. However, he never really flashed during the preseason, getting just two tackles and no sacks, another reason to pick Douzable, the more versatile of the two.

LB Rufus Alexander vs. J. Leman: Alexander is the 2007 sixth-round pick working his way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last preseason and admitted he didn't quite have all of his burst back yet. More time to make that recovery could help him to become a factor down the line. Leman, the training-camp roommate of Erin Henderson, has a good attitude, but we believe giving Alexander more time to recover from his knee surgery could prove wise in the long run.

CB Marcus Walker vs. Brandon Sumrall: Walker had a solid preseason, but just like Sumrall ran into a deep and more veteran defensive backfield. Both had flashes of potential during the preseason, but, from what we saw, Walker looks like more of a pure cornerback.


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