Full Training Camp Roster Breakdown for the Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings have less than two months to assess the 90 players on their roster and select the 53 that give them the best shot to extend the success they had last season.
Between the draft, the signing of undrafted rookies, as well as the signing of free agents, the Vikings are looking to fill holes on both sides of the ball. They need to settle on a middle linebacker as well as determine whether to carry an extra wide receiver or cornerback after departures of key starters at both positions from last year.
Here's a look at the Vikings' current roster by position and what they must do to be on the roster come September 1.
Christian Ponder (No. 7)
Head coach Leslie Frazier insists that there is no quarterback competition between Ponder and Matt Cassel. Ponder is the starter and newly signed free agent Cassel is the backup. Ponder comes off a season where he struggled at times but led the Vikings to a 10-6 record. With some upgrades at wide receiver and the best running back in the NFL behind him, this will be a make-or-break season for Ponder.
Matt Cassel (No.16)
If the Vikings were truly set on Ponder as the starter, then whoever backs him up wouldn't be much of a question—except when Joe Webb was the backup. Webb did not throw his first pass of the season until the Wild Card playoff game in Green Bay. Cassel comes to the Vikings with a 29-33 record over eight NFL seasons. He's had two winning seasons, going 10-5 in New England in 2008 when Tom Brady was lost in Week 1, and in 2010 when he led the Chiefs to the playoffs going 10-5 as their starter.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson (No. 4)
Signed last year to the practice squad, Bethel-Thompson played college ball at Sacramento State after transferring from UCLA. A former UFL player where he was the Sacramento Mountain Lions' third-string quarterback, he spent some time with the 49ers and Dolphins before signing with the Vikings. His only shot of making the team is as the clipboard holder and emergency quarterback.
James Vandenberg (No. 12)
An undrafted rookie free agent, Vandenberg played at Iowa where he started his junior and senior seasons. His best season came in 2011 when he threw 25 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, while passing for 3,022 yards. He may have a shot to compete with Bethel-Thompson for the third and final quarterback spot on the roster, but his best bet will be to end up on a practice squad somewhere.
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Adrian Peterson (No. 28)
After the loss of Percy Harvin, the Minnesota Vikings' offense rotated around Peterson. Over the last half of the season he averaged 165 yards per game and was held to less than 100 yards only once. He comes into this season completely healthy and with a goal to rush for 2,500 yards. The only thing that might stop him is head coach Leslie Frazier wanting a more balanced offense with an improved receiving corps.
Toby Gerhart (No. 32)
Last year was supposed to be a breakout year for Gerhart, but the opportunity never presented itself when Peterson opened the season as the starter. He wound up with his fewest carries and his lowest yardage total in three seasons.
Jerome Felton (No. 42)
Felton signed a one-year deal with the Vikings before last season. Blocking for the best running back in the NFL has its rewards, and Felton was re-signed to a three-year, $7.5 million contract.
Matt Asiata (No. 48)
An undrafted rookie from Utah in 2011, Asiata earned a spot on the Vikings' roster in 2012 after leading the team in rushing with 134 yards during the preseason. It will take either an injury or spectacular play by another undrafted free agent to replace Asiata on the roster.
Joe Banyard (No. 23)
Banyard spent last season on the Vikings' practice squad after going undrafted following his senior season at Texas-El Paso in 2011. In his two seasons at Texas-El Paso he averaged 6.2 yards per carry. He will be battling Asiata for the final roster spot but will need to be impressive to supplant the incumbent.
Bradley Randle (No. 38)
A backup at UNLV, Randle declared for the NFL draft in 2013, forgoing his senior year. The problem is he did not get drafted and is a long shot to make any team. His best bet might be with the CFL.
Jerodis Williams (No. 43)
Williams' specialty at Furman was at a return specialist where he earned Football Championship Subdivision All-American honors. He led the FCS with a 35.9 yard average. His best chance to make the team might be as Harvin's replacement as kick returner.
Zach Line (No. 48)
Line, a fullback from Southern Methodist, received the largest signing bonus among Vikings' rookie free agents at $8,000. That doesn't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, and his chances of making the roster depend solely on the health of Felton. Even then the Vikings might opt to use tight end Rhett Ellison more at fullback, so his odds of landing on the final roster are very long.
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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.
Kyle Rudolph (No. 82)
Last season Rudolph started to shine as he led the Vikings with nine touchdown receptions. A late addition to the Pro Bowl, Rudolph was named the game's MVP after catching five passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. Look for Rudolph to have an even bigger year for the Vikings in 2013.
John Carlson (No. 89)
Carlson suffered a knee injury in training camp last season and was never able to fully play up to his potential. He restructured his contract in order to save the team some cap space and will be Rudolph's main backup.
Rhett Ellison (No. 40)
One of the Vikings' three fourth-round draft picks from last season, Ellison started seven games last season as the main replacement for Jim Kleinsasser, who retired following the 2011 season. He brings the versatility of being able to play fullback as well as tight end.
Chase Ford (No. 86)
An undrafted rookie in 2012, Ford spent time on three different practice squads. He was with the Eagles and Cowboys before signing with the Vikings. The University of Miami player is a long shot to make the roster and will most likely find himself on the practice squad again.
Colin Anderson (No. 45)
An undrafted rookie from Furman, Anderson finished his career with 90 catches, 1,541 receiving yards and a record 11 touchdowns for a tight end at Furman. His best bet will be to land on the practice squad.
Matt Kalil (No. 75)
The Vikings selected Kalil with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He will be the Vikings' left tackle for the better part of the next decade.
Phil Loadholt (No. 71)
Loadholt has started every game except one since being selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft. He signed a four-year, $25 million contract that will keep him anchoring the right tackle position until at least 2017.
DeMarcus Love (No. 73)
Drafted in the sixth round in 2011, injuries have kept Love from making his NFL debut. In 2011 it was his knees. Last season pectoral surgery in September ended his season before it even started. The Vikings must see something in Love in order to keep him around. At 6'4" and 315 pounds he's neither the tallest nor the biggest tackle on the roster. He will need to be very impressive this training camp in order to make the roster.
Brandon Keith (No. 79)
Keith was out of football after starting 11 games at right tackle for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011. A seventh-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2008, he is a long shot to make the roster.
Kevin Murphy (No. 68)
An undrafted rookie from Harvard in 2012, Murphy spent last season on the Vikings practice squad. He is a long shot to make the roster in 2013.
Brandon Fusco (No. 63)
Fusco, the Vikings' sixth-round draft pick out of Slippery Rock in 2011, started all 16 games last season—mostly due to the injury suffered by Geoff Schwartz in training camp last year. Schwartz was supposed to challenge for the starting position but failed to make it a competition, and he is now in Kansas City. Nothing changes, and Fusco is good to start all 16 games again in 2013.
Charlie Johnson (No. 74)
After struggling at left tackle in 2011, Johnson was moved to left guard with the addition of Matt Kalil. The shift in position was not a problem as he had started all 16 games there in 2008 for the Colts. The Vikings' offensive line started all 16 games together as a unit, and there's no reason to change anything.
Jeff Baca (No. 60)
The Vikings' sixth-round draft pick this year, Baca played both tackle and guard at UCLA. This versatility will help him compete for one of the backup roles on the offensive line.
Travis Bond (No. 76)
Listed as a guard on the Vikings' roster, according to a report from Tom Pelissero from 1500ESPN, Bond will get the opportunity to be the Vikings' swing tackle, backing up Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt. His main competition will come from DeMarcus Love.
Seth Olson (No. 72)
Olson, like Johnson is a former Colt. A fourth-round draft pick of the Broncos in 2009, Olson started five games over the last two seasons in Indianapolis. He spent a short stint on the Vikings' practice squad in 2011. He is a long shot to make the team.
Tyler Holmes (No. 66)
The seventh-overall pick in the CFL in 2012, Holmes elected to sign with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie. He spent the 2012 season on the practice squad.
Troy Kropog (No. 78)
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft by Tennessee, Kropog has yet to start a game. He spent last season on the Vikings practice squad. He is a long shot to make the team.
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John Sullivan (No. 65)
Sullivan is starting to be recognized as one of the best centers in the league. He is coming off microfracture surgery on his left knee and has not participated fully in OTAs. He is expected to be ready when training camp opens.
Joe Berger (No. 61)
This will be Berger's third year with the Vikings. A former starter in Miami, Berger has been the Vikings' top backup at guard and center. Signing a one-year contract in March, this could be the last season with the team for the 31-year-old.
Camden Wentz (No. 64)
Wentz is an undrafted rookie from North Carolina State where he started at center the last two seasons. At 6'3" and 301 pounds he's almost the exact same size as Sullivan. With all five starters on the offensive line returning, and a couple of draft picks in the mix, Wentz's chances of making the team are slim.
Jared Allen (No. 69)
Allen is in the last year of his contract, and at the age of 31 he is getting to the point where the Vikings don't like to overpay (see Antoine Winfield). Allen has led the Vikings in sacks in his five years with the team, averaging 15 per season. Coming off surgery for a torn labrum, which he played with most of last season, Allen will be ready when camp opens. Once healthy, there's no reason to believe he is about to slow down.
Brian Robison (No. 96)
Like Allen, Robison is also playing on the last year of his contract. The fourth-round draft pick in 2007, he has started opposite Allen on the end of the defensive line and has been effective in getting to the quarterback. He has averaged eight sacks per season. The Vikings will have a difficult decision to make when the season is over.
Everson Griffen (No. 97)
Griffen did not start a single game last season as the top backup to Allen and Robison, and yet he still finished with eight sacks on the season. Like Allen and Robison, he is playing on the last year of his contract. A very versatile player, the Vikings have used him everywhere along the line and even tried to convert him to linebacker. Because he is only 25 years old he has the best shot of being re-signed.
D'Aundre Reed (No. 91)
A seventh-round draft pick from Arizona in 2011, Reed saw action as a backup in six games last season but did not make it to the stat sheet. Because of the situation with the top three defensive ends, and the fact he has been with the team for two seasons, Reed may get more of an opportunity to show what he can do and whether he is a viable option for the Vikings in the future.
George Johnson (No. 92)
An undrafted rookie in 2010, Johnson was signed by Tampa Bay. He saw action in four games in 2011 for the Buccaneers, suffering a knee injury that ended his season. The Vikings signed him to their practice squad last November, and he saw action in two games. This will be his first training camp with the team. His main competition will be with Reed.
Lawrence Jackson (No. 94)
A first-round draft pick of Seattle in 2008, Jackson started 24 games in his two years with the Seahawks. He spent the last three seasons as a backup in Detroit. He has 19.5 sacks in his five-year career. Like veteran cornerbacks Zack Bowman and Chris Carr the Vikings signed before training camp last season, Jackson will get a look but will most likely find himself cut unless he outplays every other end on the team.
Marquis Jackson (No. 64)
Jackson is a well traveled college player that started his career at College of the Canyons, a junior college in California. He played two years at Texas Southern and transferred to Portland State for his senior year. His twin brother Malik was a fifth-round pick of the Broncos in 2012. According to his draft profile on NFL.com, he is a versatile player that has had success at every level he's played. His best bet would be to wind up on the practice squad.
Collins Ukwu (No. 67)
An undrafted free agent from Kentucky, Ukwu was a three-year starter at defensive end for the Wildcats. He is a long shot to make the team. It's a numbers game, and Ukwu is looking at too many in front of him.
Kevin Williams (No. 93)
Williams has only missed three games in his 10-year career with the Vikings. He restructured his contract, reducing it to one year and guaranteeing him $4.9 million in 2013. Turning 33 in August, this will most likely be the last season in Minnesota for the six-time Pro Bowler.
Letroy Guion (No. 98)
Guion finally broke into the starting lineup last season as the Vikings nose tackle, starting 15 games. The Vikings fifth-round draft pick in 2008 had his best season with two sacks and 29 tackles. According to a report by Andrew Krammer on 1500ESPN, Guion and Fred Evans will battle it out to determine who will be the starter at nose tackle.
Fred Evans (No. 90)
A seven-year veteran, Evans has been a backup with the Vikings for six seasons. Turning 30 in November, time may be against him. Like Guion, he had the best season of his career notching two sacks and making 23 tackles.
Sharrif Floyd (No. 95)
The Vikings' top draft pick this season, Floyd is slated to backup Williams this season and be ready to replace him in 2014. One of the top tackles in the draft, Floyd will see plenty of action this year. If he excels it could push Williams over to nose tackle, leaving either Guion or Evans as the odd man out.
Everett Dawkins (No. 79)
The Vikings' last draft pick this year, Dawkins is projected as a practice squad candidate. He started 41 games at Florida State where he finished with 106 tackles, 15 for a loss and seven sacks. Last season he finished with 26 tackles, 1.5 for a loss and 0.5 sacks.
Chase Baker (No. 62)
A practice-squad player from last season, Baker went undrafted from Boise State in 2012. It will be tough for him to make the final roster and will most likely wind up on a practice squad somewhere else.
Anthony McCloud (No. 76)
A teammate of Dawkins at Florida State, McCloud had almost identical stats in his senior season as Dawkins. He finished with 24 tackles, one for a loss and one sack. He will find himself competing against his college teammate to find a roster spot with the Vikings.
Chad Greenway (No. 52)
The Vikings starting strong-side linebacker, Greenway earned second team AP All-Pro honors last season. He finished second in the NFL in tackles with 148. He is coming off minor knee surgery on his left knee, but there are no concerns and he will be ready for the start of the season.
Erin Henderson (No. 50)
It's been a roller coaster ride for Henderson after signing a two-year contract in March. The two-year starter at weak-side linebacker was slated to take over at middle linebacker and then was moved back with the recent signing of former Green Bay Packer Desmond Bishop. Henderson had a career high with 112 tackles last season.
Desmond Bishop (No. TBD)
After missing the entire 2012 season with a ruptured hamstring, the Vikings were able to sign the six-year veteran to a one-year contract worth $850,000. In 2011 Bishop led the Packers with 121 tackles and added five sacks. He will be an upgrade over Jasper Brinkley who started at middle linebacker for the Vikings last season. The question will be whether or not he is fully recovered from the injury.
Marvin Mitchell (No. 55)
In his first season with the Vikings, Mitchell started one game at middle linebacker. A career backup and special teams player, Mitchell will need to make the team on the coverage units. A seventh-round draft pick of the Saints in 2007, he has only started three games in six seasons. He could be a casualty of a youth movement at the linebacker position.
Larry Dean (No. 51)
An undrafted rookie in 2011 from Valdosta State, Dean has been a special teams standout. He ranked second on the team in special-team tackles last season. The only way he doesn't make the team is if he suffers an injury or is outplayed by every other linebacker on the roster.
Audie Cole (No. 57)
The Vikings' seventh-round draft pick in 2012, things were looking up for Cole, until the team signed Bishop. In need of a middle linebacker, Cole would have competed with Henderson for a chance to start. His biggest highlight so far was last preseason when he returned two interceptions for touchdowns on consecutive plays against the Bills. He was active for five games last season. He will need to beat out the two Penn State linebackers drafted by the Vikings this year to remain on the roster.
Gerald Hodges (No. 54)
Like Cole, things looked promising for Hodges before the Bishop signing. An outside linebacker in college, the move of Henderson to the middle opened things up for Hodges to get a shot to start. He will be competing for a chance to play on special teams and will need to beat out either Mitchell or Cole.
Michael Mauti (No. 56)
Mauti is a physical beast. The problem is he is recovering from his third knee injury, the second to his left knee in two years. Last season Mauti finished second to Hodges with 96 tackles for the Nittany Lions and led the team with three interceptions. Over three seasons at Penn State he finished with 183 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and four interceptions. He will first need to prove he is healthy and then beat out several other players to make the team. He will most likely open training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Nathan Williams (No. 59)
A defensive end at Ohio State, Williams went undrafted this year. Knee injuries limited him to only one game in 2011. At 6'3" and 249 pounds, Williams is a little light to play defensive end and a bit too bulky for outside linebacker. He is a long shot to make the conversion to linebacker and wind up on the roster.
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Chris Cook (No. 20)
Cook becomes the Vikings' top cornerback with the departure of Antoine Winfield. The problem is that Cook has not been able to live up to his potential. The Vikings' second-round draft pick in 2010, he has yet to complete an entire season, averaging seven games in his three seasons in the NFL. At 6'2" he has the size needed to cover the big receivers in the NFC North.
Josh Robinson (No. 21)
Last year's third-round pick has been getting plenty of work with the first team in OTAs so far. He has been moved to the slot in the nickel, yielding to rookie Xavier Rhodes on the outside. Robinson started six games last season, finishing with 52 tackles and two interceptions. Whether he starts, or is moved to the slot, he will see plenty of action this season.
Xavier Rhodes (No. 29)
Like safety Harrison Smith last season, the expectations are for Rhodes to open the season as the starting cornerback opposite Cook. Look for head coach Leslie Frazier make Rhodes "earn" the starting role by having him start training camp with the second-team defense. The 6'2", 210-pound junior led the Seminoles with three interceptions this past season, and finished with eight for his career. Like Cook, he brings size needed to cover the likes of Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Jordy Nelson.
A.J. Jefferson (No. 24)
Despite starting seven games last season, Jefferson struggled in coverage for the Vikings. An undrafted rookie in 2010, Jefferson played two seasons with the Cardinals before being traded to the Vikings. He as 32 games of experience and 14 starts the last two seasons. This experience will help him to make the team as a backup.
Jacob Lacey (No. 26)
There's nothing like a little pressure. The Vikings cut Winfield and then signed four-year veteran Lacey, giving him Winfield's old number. Lacey has the most experience of any cornerback on the roster with 36 starts in 54 games played. A broken thumb suffered during OTAs required surgery and sidelined him for minicamp. He should be ready to go for the start of training camp and has a good shot at being the top backup for the Vikings. In his rookie season with the Colts in 2009 he was second on the AFC South champions with three interceptions.
Marcus Sherels (No. 35)
Sherels has been most valuable to the Vikings as a special teams player as the primary punt returner. If he is to make the team in 2013 he will need to demonstrate that he is also the best option to return kicks. An undrafted rookie from Minnesota in 2010, he has played in every game the last two seasons, making three starts on defense in 2011.
Brandon Burton (No. 27)
The Vikings' fifth-round pick in 2011, Burton only saw action in four games last season after playing in 10 and starting one as a rookie. With 10 cornerbacks on the roster Burton will need to have an exceptional camp in order to earn a spot on the final roster.
Greg McCoy (No. 30)
A seventh-round pick of the Bears last year, McCoy spent most of last season on the Cardinals' practice squad. At TCU he was an explosive return man on kickoffs, averaging 30.6 yards per return and scoring two touchdowns. He finished his career with 93 tackles and seven interceptions for the Horned Frogs. It's unlikely that the Vikings will carry a separate specialist to return punts and kickoffs. In order to make the team, McCoy will have to beat out Sherels as the fifth or sixth cornerback.
Bobby Felder (No. 31)
An undrafted rookie last season, Felder spent the entire year on the Vikings' practice squad. The 6'1", 200 pound player from Nichols State will get a chance to earn a spot on the roster, but he will need to outplay the likes of Jefferson, Burton and Sherels.
Rodrick Williams (No. 25)
It seems as though the Vikings dabble with former CFL players every season. Last year it was linebacker Solomon Elimimian, this year it's Williams. He played three seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos where he finished with 111 tackles and 11 interceptions. Following the 2011 season he was named a CFL West Division All-sStar. Despite his experience in Canada, he's a long shot to even make it past the first round of cuts.
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Harrison Smith (No. 22)
The second-year player is coming off a rookie season where he finished tied for the team lead with three interceptions—two of which he turned into touchdowns. He finished second on the team in tackles behind Chad Greenway with 104. He is a hard hitter and the leader in the defensive backfield the Vikings have been looking for.
Jamarca Sanford (No. 33)
Sanford started 13 games last season at strong safety. Playing alongside Smith, Sanford had a strong season, finishing with 66 tackles. Slated to be the early starter this year he will have competition from Mistral Raymond.
Mistral Raymond (No. 41)
Raymond opened last season as the starting strong safety, starting the first three games. An injury pushed him to the sideline, allowing Sanford to shine. There will be a tough battle between these two to earn the starting role. A sixth-round draft pick in 2011, Raymond has been active for 10 games in each of his first two seasons, starting 10 of them.
Robert Blanton (No. 36)
Smith's college teammate at Notre Dame, Blanton was active for 12 games last season, making only four tackles. A fifth-round pick last year, his best bet is to stay on with the team as a special teams player.
Andrew Sendejo (No. 34)
An undrafted rookie in 2010, Sendejo played with the Sacramento Mountain Lions in 2010 and then signed with the Dallas Cowboys. He saw action in the Vikings' last three games of the 2011 season and was active for 13 last year. If he is to make the roster again in 2013, he will need to excel on special teams.
Brandon Bishop (No. 37)
An undrafted rookie from North Carolina State, Bishop finished second for the Wolfpack with 103 tackles. A teammate of Audie Cole's in 2011, he was third in tackles with 89. He finished his four-year career at N.C. State with 12 interceptions. It will be very difficult for him to make the Vikings' roster.
Darius Eubanks (No. 49)
Eubanks played linebacker at Georgia Southern. He is little more than training camp fodder at this point and will most likely be among the first cuts in training camp.
For the second straight season the Minnesota Vikings made a splash by using a draft pick on a kicking specialist.
Blair Walsh (No. 3)
Last year the Vikings surprised people by selecting Walsh in the sixth round of the draft. After converting only 73.8 percent of his kicks at Georgia, Walsh was a perfect 10-for-10 on attempts from 50 yards or further, setting the NFL record for the most 50-yard field goals in a season. He finished his rookie season converting 92.1 percent of his field-goal attempts and his 141 points last season ranks second all-time in Vikings' franchise history.
Jeff Locke (No. 12)
The Vikings used a fifth-round pick on UCLA punter Locke, and then promptly released eight-year veteran Chris Kluwe. Locke averaged 44.2 yards per punt over four years at UCLA. He also converted 6-of-9 PATs and 2-of-3 field goals during his junior season. He will have no competition in camp and the only way he doesn't make the team is if he breaks a leg.
Cullen Loeffler (No. 46)
Loeffler won the long snapping duties as a rookie free agent in 2004. Since then the nine-year veteran has missed only five games due to a back injury in 2011. Jared Allen briefly took over the duties until the Vikings could find someone else. Like Walsh and Locke, Loeffler will have no competition in training camp.