NFC North: Martin Nance

Vikings: Cutdown analysis

August, 30, 2008
8/30/08
6:07
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

View the Vikings' official list of cuts here, where you can also access their 53-man roster as it stands now.

Biggest surprise: There were no shockers among the releases. Probably the biggest surprise was the release of receiver Martin Nance, who had a productive preseason. Ultimately, however, it was going to be hard for him to beat out Aundrae Allison or Robert Ferguson. Otherwise, there were some mild surprises among the players the Vikings kept - at least for now. Tight end Garrett Mills was a summer disappointment because of a leg injury but he remains one of four tight ends on the roster. The other surprise was safety Michael Boulware going on injured reserve. Boulware played in the preseason finale Thursday at Dallas and was not a part of the post-game injury report.

No-brainers: Quarterback Brooks Bollinger was destined to be a roster casualty as soon as the Vikings drafted John David Booty in the fifth round. Booty didn't have an impressive summer, but he would have had to fall on his face for the Vikings to keep Bollinger another year. Meanwhile, linebacker Rufus Alexander wasn't the same this summer as he attempted to return from major knee surgery.

What's next: Several young players made the final 53-man roster but could ultimately become practice squad material. By making them part of their initial roster, the Vikings will avoid exposing them to the first round of waivers. That list includes linebackers David Herron and Erin Henderson, as well as cornerback Husain Abdullah. They could be the first to go if the Vikings sign any veterans or make any waiver claims this weekend.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

We are working on a story that pegs Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson as an emerging star in the NFC North, and Johnson keeps giving us more material.

Quite simply, he put on a show Sunday night in the Lions' 27-10 preseason victory at Cincinnati -- catching three passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in the first two series of the game. Here's a breakdown:

  • Lions' first play from scrimmage: 40-yard reception, leaping over Bengals cornerback Leon Hall.
  • Lions' fifth play from scrimmage: 9-yard reception.
  • Lions' sixth play from scrimmage: 27-yard touchdown. On the play, Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph was flagged for illegal contact at the line of scrimmage. It didn't matter. Johnson shoved Joseph aside and ran his route.

We are only midway through the preseason here. But if nothing else, Johnson appears unencumbered by the back injury that slowed him his rookie season. He is showing why he was the No. 2 overall pick of the 2007 draft, having caught seven passes for 154 yards in FOUR offensive series, and the Lions are giggling with excitement.

As are we ... as we head into another week covering the NFC North.

  • Technically, Lions quarterback Jon Kitna has been perfect this preseason. He has achieved the NFL's highest passer rating (158.3) in both of the Lions' preseason games.
  • Detroit started a rookie backfield Sunday night: Tailback Kevin Smith and fullback Jerome Felton.
  • The Green Bay Packers are planning no changes to the configuration of their offensive line, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. So despite a rough night Saturday in San Francisco, Jason Spitz and Josh Sitton are expected to continue working with the first team when practice resumes Monday night.
  • Packers running back Noah Herron opens up about a scary summer incident in which he fought off intruders inside his Wisconsin home.
  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune thinks Chicago coach Lovie Smith should do everyone a favor and name Kyle Orton the Bears' starting quarterback. "... There hasn't been enough carry-over into games to convince anybody the drawn-out process was better than just naming a starter from Day 1," Haugh writes.
  • As quarterback Tarvaris Jackson heals from a sprained right knee, the Minnesota Vikings are trying to figure out if they have a roster spot for receiver Martin Nance. Nance is competing for the No. 6 receiving job -- if the Vikings end up keeping six receivers -- but was impressive Saturday night in Baltimore, catching three passes for 74 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8