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Bleacher Report – Vikings

An early Vikings depth chart before training camp

By Andrew Krammer

In a month, what looks like the deepest roster under Mike Zimmer will begin training camp.

Only then will questions begin to produce answers about the Vikings competition at cornerback, safety, linebacker, tackle, guard and receiver. It’s a decent amount of intrigue. During the past two months, they’ve implemented new wrinkles in the offense and integrated new players. While Zimmer certainly has an early hierarchy when evaluating the roster, much is written in pencil.

“One thing I try not to do, especially in OTAs where we’re not in pads, is try to jump to some kind of conclusion of who should be the starter,” Zimmer said earlier this month. “I’ll kind of let that play out in camp.

“That’s what you guys get paid to do, is jump to conclusions.”

We’ll save our 53-man projections for later this summer. Here’s our best guess at where things currently stand on the Vikings depth chart ahead of training camp, based on observations from spring practices and comments from Zimmer and his assistant coaches. They currently hold two open roster spots.

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Teddy Bridgewater

Backups: Shaun Hill, Taylor Heinicke , Joel Stave

Situation: Bridgewater, looking bulked up, worked on his throwing motion to improve accuracy on long balls this spring. Backup quarterback might be the weakest point on the roster with a 36-year-old Hill and zero career attempts behind him. It’s plausible Heinicke supplants Hill as the backup with another strong preseason, though Hill’s mentorship is valued for a young starter.

Running backs

Adrian Peterson

Backups: Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Jhurell Pressley, C.J. Ham

Situation: The pecking order didn’t move with Peterson, McKinnon and Asiata. It looks like McKinnon is in line for a larger role; how big is dependent upon Peterson’s involvement in the passing game. Asiata is likely still the backfield’s best pass protector.

Fullback

Zach Line

Backups: Blake Renaud

Situation: Last year, Line quietly saw more playing time (220 snaps) than Johnson, McKinnon and Pruitt. The fullback continued to stay involved throughout the spring and looks to have a role in the 2016 backfield.

Receivers

Charles Johnson, Stefon Diggs, Jarius Wright

Backups: Laquon Treadwell, Cordarrelle Patterson, Adam Thielen, Isaac Fruechte, Moritz Böhringer, Terrell Sinkfield, Troy Stoudermire, Marken Michel

Situation: Treadwell was limited early by injury and worked mostly with Hill. His long arms are a passer’s friend and should soon begin working with Bridgewater in camp, when his physical play will stand out. Diggs still looks like the reliable and smooth route-runner. Wright continues to hold the slot role. Believe it or not, Johnson is the senior of the group at age 27 and can create a logjam. He’s back from a broken rib and showed off his high jump as the starting ‘X’ receiver this spring. Patterson, the beleaguered 2013 first-round pick, drew some good reviews and needs a strong preseason entering a contract year. Böhringer has the tools, but showed a drop problem and is far from a finished product.

Tight ends

Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt

Backups: David Morgan II, Brian Leonhardt, Kyle Carter, Rhett Ellison

Situation: Rudolph is hoping for a breakout season as they shore up the offensive line. Dependent upon Ellison’s recovery from a torn patellar tendon, the secondary tight end role is up between Pruitt and Morgan. They’re different players, with Morgan better resembling Ellison, and could each carve out situational niches. Ellison expects to be ready by training camp and was instrumental blocking for Peterson’s third rushing title last season.

Tackles

Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt

Backups: Andre Smith, T.J. Clemmings, Austin Shepherd, Carter Bykowski, Jeremiah Sirles

Situation: None of the top three tackles are signed beyond this season. Kalil had his first surgery-free offseason since 2013 and hopes to earn a long-term extension in Minnesota. Loadholt led the split of first-team reps with Smith at right tackle. That competition will begin in earnest at camp. Clemmings saw work on both sides as the top swing tackle.

Guards

Alex Boone, Brandon Fusco

Backups: Mike Harris, Willie Beavers, Isame Faciane

Situation: Harris’ ability to swing from guard to tackle makes him a valuable backup if he doesn’t win the right guard competition against Fusco, who’s back in his comfort zone after a one-year stint on the left side.

Center

John Sullivan

Backups: Joe Berger, Zac Kerin, Nick Easton

Situation: Sullivan is out to prove he’s recovered from two back surgeries last year needed to repair a herniated disk. He’s backed up by the versatile Berger, who is the only lineman with starts at center and guard.

DEFENSE

Defensive line

Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd

Backups: Tom Johnson, Danielle Hunter, Shamar Stephen, Scott Crichton, Justin Trattou, Zach Moore, Stephen Weatherly, Denzell Perine, Kenrick Ellis, Theiran Cockran, Toby Johnson, Travis Raciti

Situation: A position of strength, expect big things from Griffen and Joseph. The defensive line is both top heavy and deep with Johnson, Hunter and Stephen a versatile trio off the bench. The concern here comes with the sustainability of Floyd, who missed four starts last year and much of the spring due to injury. Depending on his play, Floyd could be up for an extension after this season. Hunter continues to enter as a situational pass rusher, shifting Robison inside as Johnson subbed for Floyd.

Linebackers

Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Chad Greenway

Backups: Emmanuel Lamur, Edmond Robinson, Kentrell Brothers, Audie Cole, Brandon Watts, Jake Ganus

Situation: Like Floyd, Barr’s health will be worth monitoring after he missed much of the spring due to an undisclosed injury. He dealt with groin, knee and hand injuries last season. Two additions aimed to shore up the spots next to Barr, the rising star at strong-side linebacker. Competition at weak-side linebacker will be interesting as Lamur pushes the 11th-year veteran in Greenway. Brothers and Cole provide depth in the middle behind Kendricks.

Cornerbacks

Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn

Backups: Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Jabari Price, Marcus Sherels, Keith Baxter, Tre Roberson, Melvin White

Situation: The question is when, not if, Waynes will take over for the ageless Newman. The coaching staff wants to see Waynes make plays in practice before rewarding him with the job. Munnerlyn should remain the top slot corner ahead of Alexander. Price stood out in two minicamp practices.

Safeties

Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo

Backups: Michael Griffin, Anthony Harris, Antone Exum Jr., Jayron Kearse

Situation: Starting safety next to Smith, the league’s new highest-paid safety, is up for grabs after the Vikings gave guaranteed money to both Sendejo ($4 million) and Griffin ($750,000) this offseason. Sendejo appears to be the frontrunner as he took most, if not all, of the first-team reps this spring. Harris joined Griffin with the second team and is a darkhorse candidate.

The post An early Vikings depth chart before training camp appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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