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Minnesota Vikings' projected roster

8/4/2014

Examining the Minnesota Vikings' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

The Vikings could free up some roster space if they carried only two QBs and traded Ponder for a late-round pick at some point, but it seems likely they'll carry three into the season. Ponder could still have some value in an emergency, if the Vikings aren't ready to put Bridgewater on the field and they need someone to fill in if Cassel is injured or ineffective.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Asiata has played well during training camp, and could push McKinnon for the No. 2 spot. At the very least, both could have distinct roles behind Peterson, with Asiata as a downhill runner and McKinnon as a threat in the passing game.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman singled out Thielen -- who spent last year on the Vikings' practice squad -- as a player who had improved from last year during the Vikings' minicamp, and the Minnesota State product has been the darling of training camp so far. Undrafted free agent Kain Colter got an $8,000 signing bonus from the Vikings, but the 6-foot-5 Smith sneaks in ahead of him to give the group a bigger target.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Chase Ford's broken foot could mean he'll start the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Leonard has struggled with a head injury that the Vikings haven't yet called a concussion, but if he can recover in time to make an impression in the preseason, he might be able to claim the open spot. He's only 6-foot-2 and will struggle as a blocker, but his speed (a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine) could make him an intriguing weapon, especially if the Vikings look to flex him out.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

The Vikings seem set with their starting five from last season, which means Yankey would have to wait for a chance to push Johnson at left guard; everyone from coach Mike Zimmer to offensive line coach Jeff Davidson seems to like the continuity the Vikings have enjoyed on the line. Undrafted rookie Antonio Richardson could get a long look at tackle, too, and if the Vikings don't put him on their roster, they'll likely try to sneak him onto their practice squad.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

This might be the deepest position group on the Vikings' roster, and in Mike Zimmer's defensive line rotation, they could all play; Wootton and Crichton give the Vikings a pair of versatile backups who can play inside or outside, and Johnson and Evans figure to be the primary backups at three-technique and nose tackle, respectively. The Vikings will be counting on Floyd taking a big step forward in Year 2.

LINEBACKERS (6)

In Cincinnati, Zimmer had linebacking groups of just six and five players after training camp the past two seasons. If the position is similarly staffed this season, it could mean the Vikings will cut seventh-round pick Brandon Watts. There are plenty of questions at the position overall -- none of the three spots in the Vikings' base defense is completely solidified -- but in Barr, Hodges, Mauti and Cole, the Vikings have some young talent to work with.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (12)

There's a large group of defensive backs on the roster, but with as many prolific passing attacks as the Vikings will face, it makes sense to keep a large group of them -- especially in light of how many three-safety looks Zimmer has employed in camp and how many young players he could try to stash on the roster. Price has been one of the pleasant surprises of camp; he's been willing to compete at slot cornerback, and earned a reputation as a solid tackler in run support from his days at North Carolina.

SPECIALISTS (3)

The group returns unchanged from what the Vikings had on their roster last year; Locke punted better toward the end of the season, and has already put in some work getting to know the wind patterns at TCF Bank Stadium.