The Vikings got down to the NFL-mandated 75 players on their roster Tuesday by releasing four players – kicker Taylor Mehlhaff, cornerback Derrick Roberson, running back Antone Smith and offensive lineman Nick Urban.
None of the cuts is a surprise.
All but Roberson were new to the Vikings in 2009. Roberson joined the team's practice squad on Nov. 25 last year and finished the season there after spending time on the Texans practice squad at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008. The Vikings are fairly deep at cornerback this year with the return of Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin and Benny Sapp, and the additions of third-round pick Asher Allen and free-agent signee Karl Paymah. Roberson would stand a better chance at playing time with a different team.
Smith was a late addition to the team, joining the Vikings during training camp when they were short-handed at the position after Khalil Bell was injured early in camp. Smith showed well and could be a consideration for the practice squad.
Urban is also another candidate for the practice squad because of the big jump he was making from Division II Winona (Minn.) State to the NFL. He was signed after trying out with the Vikings during their annual cattle call of unsigned rookies, many of them from local colleges. Urban started out strong in his bid for a roster spot, but he may have started thinking a bit too much, and some time on the practice squad may help him get more comfortable with NFL techniques and schemes.
Mehlhaff played in three games for New Orleans in 2008 and was signed at the end of the season by the Vikings. He was 3-for-4 on field goals with the Saints and 9-for-10 on extra points. He had a fairly strong training camp kicking, but with veteran Ryan Longwell still proving to be very reliable there just wasn't room to keep two kickers. That said, the former Wisconsin product could end up getting a call from any team in the NFL with a precarious kicking situation.
The Vikings have to trim their roster further – by 22 more players – on Saturday afternoon to get down to the NFL-mandated 53-man rosters for the start of the regular season. On Sunday, teams can begin to build their eight-man practice squads and it wouldn't be a shock to see one or more of the cuts from Tuesday end up there if they aren't already catching on with another team.
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Vikings trim roster, release four
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