USA TODAY Sports
Shortly after signing with the Vikings, wide receiver Greg Jennings threw out the first pitch at a Twins' game.
The Minnesota Vikings are addressing their need at wide receiver by throwing as many players into the mix as possible. They currently have 12 players listed on the roster—more than any other position on the team.
Greg Jennings (No. 15)
The biggest offseason signing for the Vikings was that of Jennings. The former Packer climbs to the top of the team's depth chart and will line up as the team's flanker. The seven-year veteran will turn 30 in September and comes to the Vikings having missed 11 games the past two seasons, including eight for a torn groin last season. Before that he averaged 65 catches for 1,028 yards and eight touchdowns.
Jerome Simpson (No. 81)
This is Simpson's second year with the Vikings under his second one-year contract. After missing the start of the season serving a three-game suspension, he was plagued with a back injury that produced weakness in his legs. He finished the season with only 26 catches for 274 yards and no touchdowns. The Vikings need Simpson to perform like he did in 2011 when he caught 50 balls for 725 yards and four touchdowns. He will start at split end—until rookie Cordarrelle Patterson is ready to take over.
Jarius Wright (No. 17)
Wright is one of two wide receivers the Vikings drafted in the fourth round in 2012. He did not make his debut until Week 10 following the loss of Percy Harvin for the season in Week 9. Over the final seven games Wright caught the second-most passes behind only tight end Kyle Rudolph. His 65-yard catch against the Packers in Week 17 was the longest of the season for the Vikings. Unfortunately for Wright, with the signing of Jennings he drops down on the depth chart.
Cordarrelle Patterson (No. 84)
The rookie spent only one season at Tennessee, but in that one year he did it all. He led the Volunteers with 1,086 yards from scrimmage. He also had 772 return yards on 24 kickoff returns and four punt returns. Combined he had 10 touchdowns, catching five touchdown passes, rushing for three and returning a punt and a kick for two more. Don't be surprised if the Vikings use him a lot like they did Harvin.
Stephen Burton (No. 11)
The Vikings' final draft pick in 2011, Burton has only seven receptions in the 15 games that he has been active. However, he does have one more touchdown than Simpson. He will have a battle on his hands to stick with the team; his experience gives him a slight advantage over the rest of the field. The fact that the Vikings may keep as many as six wide receivers works in his favor.
Joe Webb (No. 14)
The Vikings are very high on Webb. They originally drafted the quarterback from Alabama-Birmingham as a wide receiver. After three years at quarterback he makes the move back to wide receiver. Webb has one reception to his credit for nine yards in 2010. His size and athleticism will help keep him on the team.
Greg Childs (No. 85)
Childs, the Vikings' other fourth-round draft pick from last year is attempting to make his second comeback from tearing his patellar tendon. He suffered the same injury after eight games his junior year. He never quite returned to the form that made him the leading receiver for Arkansas in 2009 as a sophomore. This time he is attempting to come back after suffering the injury to both knees. He will most likely open camp on the PUP list, and his best chance will be to land on the practice squad.
Chris Summers (No. 15)
It's never a good thing to share a number with another player during training camp—especially when the other player is a seven-year veteran with over 425 receptions. Summers was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted rookie last season. He was released and spent most of the season on the Vikings' practice squad. At 6'5" and 215 pounds he has the size to play at split end. As a junior at Liberty he caught 15 touchdowns. That season he earned the College Football Award as the best wide receiver at the Football Championship Subdivision. If he couldn't break onto the roster last season, he may have even more trouble this season.
LaMark Brown (No. 87)
Brown played three seasons at Kansas State as a wide receiver and running back from 2007 to 2009. In 2010 he transferred to Minnesota State University, Mankato. After going undrafted in 2012 he originally signed with the Atlanta Falcons before being released. He was on the Buffalo Bills practice squad before the Vikings signed him late last season.
Erik Highsmith (No. 8)
Highsmith, an undrafted rookie free agent, played four years at North Carolina. Last season he finished second for the Tar Heels with 54 catches for 587 yards and tied for the team lead with five touchdown receptions. He is a long shot to make the roster.
Rodney Smith (No. 83)
Another undrafted free agent, Smith was the second-leading receiver for Florida State as an upperclassman. He averaged 37 receptions, 542 yards and 3.5 touchdowns. At 6'6", he's the tallest wide receiver on the roster. Best bet, he winds up on a practice squad.
Adam Thielen (No. 19)
Invited to the Vikings' rookie minicamp as tryout player, the Vikings offered a three-year contract to Thielen. Another product from Minnesota State, Mankato, Thielen led the Mavericks with 74 receptions for 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns. He was also the team's main punt returner. If he is to make the roster, it would most likely be as a special teams player.