The Minnesota Vikings cut linebacker Derrick Pope today, which may not sound like big news, but is a shock to me.
The Vikings signed Pope to a one-year contract this offseason after he started nine games for the Miami Dolphins in 2007. According to the Star Tribune's Judd Zulgad, Pope was also pursued by the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Right after training camp started, I projected the Vikings' 53-man roster, and was predicting Pope would be the team's top backup linebacker above special teams aces Heath Farwell and Vinny Ciurciu and rookie Erin Henderson. With Pope cut and Farwell out for the year with a torn ACL, Ciurcui is a lock to make the team and Henderson, the younger brother of Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, has an inside track at making the roster after going undrafted.
I would predict Rufus Alexander, who missed the entire 2007 season due to injury, would also make the team, though J Leman and David Herron are also battling for a spot. Either way, the Vikings will be left with with a special teammer and one or two players with no NFL experience as their reserve linebackers.
That is, unless they sign a player who gets cut from someone else's roster before the start of the season. There's still some time before the Vikings open their season against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, but it looks like the Vikes will be paper thin at linebacker this year.