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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Defensive Tackle Depth Will Be On Display Sunday Night

Mike Wobschall vikings.com

Third-year pro Christian Ballard has been placed on the Active/Left Squad list and first-round pick Sharrif Floyd will be sidelined briefly after a knee procedure. On the surface, the temporary loss of two guys who figured to be key parts of the defensive tackle rotation is not a good thing.

But there’s a silver lining to the situation – the Vikings will get a great idea of the quality of their depth at defensive tackle.

Starters Letroy Guion and Kevin Williams will likely get the lion’s share of the reps with the starters on Sunday night in San Francisco. But with Ballard and Floyd not playing, there is a great opportunity for the following Vikings reserves: Chase Baker, Everett Dawkins, Fred Evans and Anthony McCloud and Spencer Nealy.

Those five players will have a chance to open some eyes on the coaching and scouting staffs when they suit up on Sunday night as the day when team’s must reduce their rosters to the final 53 men draw near. Here’s a quick look at each of those tackles…

Vikings

Chase Baker: The Boise State product from Rocklin, California spent the entire 2012 season on the Vikings practice squad and has spent the entire offseason and training camp of 2013 trying to carve a spot on the defensive tackle depth chart. He’s stout at 6-2, 300 pounds, and you shouldn’t underestimate the determination of a Boise State Bronco or of a player who began as an undrafted free agent and is still on a NFL roster a year later.

Everett Dawkins: Selected in the 7th round of this past April’s draft out of Florida State, Dawkins was one of four former Florida State Seminoles defensive linemen selected in this year’s draft. At 6-2, 300 pounds, Dawkins possesses a good blend of size and quickness.

Fred Evans: There’s not a whole lot to learn about Evans. He’s been with the Vikings since 2007 and has played in 81 games for the Purple. Evans measures in at 6-4, 305 pounds and is a regular member of the tackle rotation. It would be an upset for him not to be on the final roster.

Anthony McCloud: Another productive member of the Florida State defensive line over the past four season, McCloud would be my choice for “player to watch” from this group on Sunday night. As most rookies are at this stage, Dawkins may be swimming a bit from a physical and mental standpoint as he gets used to life in the NFL. But McCloud also flashes several times each practice and had some productive snaps in Buffalo on Friday night.

Spencer Nealy: Truth disclosure: the Vikings just signed Nealy this week and we have a lot to learn about him. We already know he’s an undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M who measures in at 6-3, 285 pounds. We’ll get to learn a little bit more as this week progresses and if he sees the field on Sunday night.

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