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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Aj Mansour’s Projected 53-Man Roster


Photo – Aj Mansour (KFAN)

By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
@AjKFAN

Minneapolis, MN – While the Minnesota Vikings don’t officially have to submit their final 53-man roster to the league until 5:00PM (CDT) on Saturday, August 31st, a lot of the decisions have already been made. In fact, many of them were already decided before Training Camp started five weeks ago. That being said, the roster trimming begins today as the Minnesota Vikings and the rest of the league will cut their rosters down to 75 before Tuesday in preparation for the big cut down to 53-men later this weekend.

With the likes of Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder and Jared Allen watching from the sidelines this Thursday, the fourth and final preseason game could be the last hurrah for those individuals still competing to fill some of the final vacant roster spots for the Vikings.

By my count, there are 45 such individuals banking on a good performance against the Titans Thursday night.

Barring any further injuries, here’s how I see the current 90-man roster whittling itself down to 75 and then ultimately down to the final 53-man roster.

Predicted Vikings 53-Man Roster (Starters Italicized)

QB: Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
RB: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Matt Asiata
FB: Rhett Ellison, Zach Line, Jerome Felton*
WR: Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson , Stephen Burton, Joe Webb
TE: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson
OL: Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Kevin Murphy, Seth Olsen, Joe Berger

DL: Jared Allen, Letroy Guion, Kevin Williams, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Sharrif Floyd, Fred Evans, D’Aundre Reed,
LB: Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Desmond Bishop, Marvin Mitchell, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges, Larry Dean
CB: Xavier Rhodes, Chris Cook, Josh Robinson, Bobby Felder, A.J. Jefferson, Marcus Sherels
S: Harrison Smith, Jamarca Sanford, Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo

P: Jeff Locke
K: Blair Walsh
LS: Cullen Loeffler

* Jerome Felton (suspended 3 games for substance abuse) will not count against the Vikings 53-man roster.

Practice Squad (pending clearing waivers):
CB: Greg McCoy
DT: Chase Baker
OL: Jeff Baca
OL: Travis Bond
RB: Joe Banyard
WR: Adam Thielen
WR: Chris Summers
LB: Michael Mauti

PUP List: WR Greg Childs

Cut Players (Offense): Colin Anderson, Bradley Randle, LaMark Brown, Chase Ford, Erik Highsmith, Brandon Keith, Troy Kropog, DeMarcus Love, Rodney Smith, James Vandenberg, Jerodis Williams

Cut Players (Defense): Brandan Bishop, Brandon Burton, Everett Dawkins, Darius Eubanks, Lawrence Jackson, Marquis Jackson, George Johnson, Stanford Keglar, Anthony McCloud, Tyrone McKenzie, Spencer Nealy, Collins Ukwu, Roderick Williams.

Not too many surprises the way that I see it this year. Backup linebacker and special teams player Tyrone McKenzie may be the biggest name getting released this year. McKenzie struggled in preseason game #2 against the Buffalo Bills and missed an opportunity to shine against San Francisco this week. The addition of Gerald Hodges pushes McKenzie one more spot down the depth chart and Larry Dean has more of an impact on special teams. That leaves McKenzie, who spent 2012 with the Vikings, as the odd man out.

DeMarcus Love hurt his chances tremendously by testing positive for a banned substance earlier this year. After missing much of 2012 with a torn pectoral muscle, Love was in line to fight for a backup swing man spot, that was before accepting a 4-game suspension for PEDs. Love is not overly talented but gave the Vikings flexibility on the line. That said, it’s not going to be worth it for the Vikings to wait out a 4-game suspension to retain him on their active roster. Kevin Murphy will be the benefactor of Love’s mistake and DeMarcus will be looking to land with another team, in another city.

You will probably have noticed by now that my final 53-man roster comes includes both Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. How is that so you may ask? It comes at the expense of a third tight end and because of the flexibility that Rhett Ellison offers the team. Ellison, a FB/TE hybrid opens the door for the Vikings to carry two straight up tight ends (Rudolph/Carlson) and opens a spot for Joe Webb to squeak onto the roster. I don’t expect Webb to be active most of the season, but his hard work and team first attitude may have earned him a roster spot for one final year with the Vikings.

Marcus Sherels and Bobby Felder also both made my cut. Felder, who has been making big strides the past few weeks, has been noticed by the coaching staff and appears to have provided a little more of a dynamic aspect to the punt return game. Sherels has always been the “sure-handed” guy that the coaches trust back there, but as Felder gains more and more steam, it may be Bobby who carries the punt return role throughout the season and Marcus who becomes a secondary casualty if a player of interest is dropped elsewhere on cut day.

What do you think of Aj’s predicted 53-man roster? Do you love it? Hate it? Let your voice be heard and leave a comment in the comments fields below…

Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN

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