Minnesota Vikings Veterans Who Could Be Training Camp Casualties

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2014

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer watches his team during an NFL football training camp practice, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in Mankato, Minn. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

After what felt like 8,000 months of NBA basketball and NFL draft coverage, the start of the Minnesota Vikings' training camp has given us the one gift that keeps on giving: football.

The "holy grail of sports" (as I like to call it) is back, and for Vikings fans, it couldn't have come at a better time. It's been said before, but with Mike Zimmer as head coach, we are about to witness a brand new style of football in Minnesota.

Now that Zimmer's Vikings are fully entrenched in training camp, we can take a look at some veteran players who could end up becoming training camp causalities.

A new administration means a new way of doing business. There is no pre-disposed loyalty at this juncture—unless your name is Adrian Peterson, of course.


Jerome Felton

Jerome Felton has proven that he's a Pro Bowl-caliber fullback. So why is he on this list?

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Scheme plays a huge role in roster and personnel decisions, which means with Norv Turner running the offense, Felton could be a casualty of that mantra.

Right now, from all the commentary circulating around camp, it's hard to figure out if Felton will be back in a Vikings uniform at the end of August.

For whatever it's worth, Coach Turner told Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the Vikings will be a "power running team." Being that type of team traditionally means a fullback is involved.

Although Turner's comments make it sound like Felton's job is safe, when Vensel spoke to the man himself, Felton wasn't as confident as his offensive coordinator.

"He’s gone from using one a lot to not very much, so I think it just depends on the system and players -- if he has a fullback and what that fullback can do," Felton said.

It'll be interesting to watch what happens with the fullback position heading into the 2014 season, especially with Felton and Zach Line in camp.

Plenty of teams have shown over the last five years that you don't need a fullback to successfully run the ball. Just look at what the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos did last season.

As specified by Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Broncos had a traditional fullback play just nine snaps, while the Eagles had zero.

These numbers don't guarantee that Felton is going to be cut, but it does appear right now that he belongs on this list.


Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Jerome Simpson

Cutting Jerome Simpson may be a reach at this point, but it's still a possibility. General manager Rick Spielman brought Simpson back this past offseason on a one-year deal to give the wide receiving corps a little solidity.

Simpson isn't a world-beater on the field. We've seen just about everything we need to know in order to form an opinion on him. However, the 6'2" 28-year-old does a good job of stretching a defense and making spectacular plays at times.

The logic to keep Simpson around is that he's somewhat a proven asset. He's produced in the NFL since the 2011 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, which makes him worth a roster spot.

Arguing against Simpson is based on two big factors: First, he is potentially facing a suspension from the league thanks to a run-in with the law back in November of 2013, per Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Secondly, the emergence of wide receivers like Adam Thielen —who's a lean 6'3"—and Kain Colter in training camp could push him to the brink.

The new regime in Vikings land will make the best decision they see fit. Adding Simpson to the framework of this roster will be one of those choices.


Christian Ponder

You were all waiting for this name to show up, admit it. The gorilla in the room this entire offseason has of course been quarterback Christian Ponder.

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Now that we've put down our fists, made peace and collectively moved past the entire "Ponder is a franchise quarterback" discussion, we can talk about where he'll end up next.

Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater's battle in training camp to secure the starting job just means Ponder's ceiling right now—barring injuries to the other two QBs—is as the team's No. 3 signal-caller.

His time attempting to carry the Vikings into the future is over. And with Spielman opting not to pick-up the fifth-year option on his contract, it's just a matter of time before he departs for greener pastures.

Roster spots are valuable, and although there's a need to have depth at each position, that could mean Ponder winds up being a camp casualty before the regular season commences. 

Keeping Ponder not only hinges on depth, it also wastes money. Right now, the way his contract is structured, according to Spotrac, the Vikings are going to be handing him cold, hard cash whether he's on the roster or out there slinging the ball for another club.

If Ponder isn't cut, the next step would be to try and trade him. Otherwise, the final season of the Ponder years in Minnesota will be spent with him holding a clipboard and learning how to improve for his next gig with a little help from Turner's steady hand.


Chase Ford

Life in the NFL can be awfully cruel at times. Vikings tight end Chase Ford got a taste of that when he broke his foot during training camp, which will result in him missing the entire preseason, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Aug 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Chase Ford (86) catches the ball before he fumbles it to the Tennessee Titans just before the goal line at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Titans recover the ball. Vikings win

Ford isn't really a veteran. He's only entering his second year with the team. Regardless, he was a player fans were looking forward to seeing develop—especially with the tight end sage Turner in town.

It's challenging to find a place for Ford since he won't be able to compete on a daily basis with the other guys. The 6'6" 24-year-old has all of the physical resources to contribute, but with an athlete like A.C. Leonard also fighting for a spot, Ford could very well be on borrowed time.

A new regime means there are no loyalties. Either Leonard will have to falter or Ford will have to prove another way that he deserves a chance to be part of this roster going forward.


All CFB stats and information courtesy of Sports-Reference.com unless noted otherwise. All NFL stats and information courtesy of NFL.com unless noted otherwise.