Meet the 2014 Minnesota Vikings Practice Squad

Some of the players who the Vikings cut Saturday got a consolation prize yesterday with a practice squad contract. The Vikings signed 9 players on Sunday and rounded out the squad today by adding cornerback Chris Greenwood .

Let’s take a look at what makes a player eligible for the practice squad:

First, a player must have a minimum of six games – up from the current three games – on a Practice Squad in order for that season to count as one of the player’s three permissible seasons of Practice Squad service.

Second, each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of two Practice Squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. Absent this exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a Practice Squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons.

(Taken from a statement from the NFL)

Now, let’s meet the 2014 Minnesota Vikings Practice Squad.

Mike Remmers, Offensive Tackle

In his short career, Remmers has already spent time with four different organizations. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012 by Denver, he was cut after the preseason. On September 11th, 2012 Remmers was picked up by Tampa Bay. The Chargers signed him off the Bucs’ practice squad on October 9th, 2013. He was released on November 23rd, and was picked up two days later by Minnesota. Remmers has appeared in one career game, with San Diego in Week 7 of last year.  He’s a big guy at 6’5″, 300 lbs. It’s hard to evaluate a player when he has played in one career game, but obviously the Vikings like something about him.

Zac Kerin, Center

Kerin was signed as an undrafted free agent in May. He’s big for a center at 6’5″, 310. Kerin is strong (30 reps of 225 on the bench) and fast (5.06 40-yard dash). His drawback is technique. Kerin doesn’t use his lower body well, and has been criticized for having short arms and slow hands. There have even been whispers about possibly moving him to guard. He was used in pulling situations frequently during his college career at Toledo. Maybe Kerin, with a little bit of coaching, could become a Joe Berger-type backup at both center and guard. He’s even big enough to play tackle. A guy like that is valuable. Consider Kerin Jeff Davidson’s next project.

Donte Foster, Wide Receiver

Foster is most well known for a couple catches he made in the fourth preseason, including a spectacular grab over a defensive back. Foster is similar to Jerome Simpson in that he has a insane ups (42″ vertical). He was signed as undrafted free agent after his college career at Ohio University. Definitely very raw, but a flashy, superb athlete. With some refining, Foster could be a legitimate NFL receiver.

Joe Banyard, Running Back

Like Foster, Banyard had a coming-out party in Week 4 of the preseason.  After going undrafted in the 2012 draft, he was signed by Jacksonville. He was cut and signed with New Orleans in June 2012. After being cut by the Saints in September 2012, the Vikings snatched Banyard up and he spent the rest of the season on the practice squad. 2013 was a whirlwind year for the running back; he was cut on August 31st, and signed to the practice squad on September 1st. He was released again on the 4th, only to be signed back to the practice squad on September 10th. On December 14th, he was added to the active roster, and was cut on the 16th. On the 18th, he was re-signed to the practice squad. He gave Matt Asiata a run for his money in training camp, and if Asiata gets hurt, Banyard is the next man up.

Isame FacianeDefensive Tackle

Faciane is another 2014 undrafted free agent on the practice squad. He played college ball at Florida International, a three-year starting DT. Like many guys on practice squads, Faciane is raw but has potential to grow and become faster and stronger. Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson coached Faciane while at Florida International. Faciane is versatile, with the ability to line up at nose tackle as well as 3-technique. With some development, he could find himself on the roster next season.

Chase Ford, Tight End

Ford might not be on the practice squad for long. After breaking his foot a couple days prior to the opening of training camp, Ford returned just last week. He was still expected to make the roster, but apparently Norv Turner hasn’t seen enough to put Ford on the active roster. In a couple weeks, he could return to playing on Sundays. Ford was signed by the Eagles two years ago as an undrafted free agent. After the Eagles cut him, he was signed by the Vikings and joined their practice squad. Ford made the team out of camp last year, and appeared in 9 games, catching 11 passes for 133 yards. He opened some eyes when Kyle Rudolph was out with an injury. We’ll see if Ford can return to form in time to contribute to the Vikings’ offense.

Kendall James, Cornerback

After seeing Kendall James play for three years at the University of Maine, I was surprised he didn’t make the roster. Not many people expected him to, but James has blinding speed along with good coverage abilities. A 6th-round pick, he is raw but I think he could find himself on the active roster at some point over the course of this season. He’d be very valuable as a gunner on special teams, probably more so than Jabari Price or Shaun Prater.

Chris Greenwood, Cornerback

2014 will be Chris Greenwood’s third year in the league. He was a 5th-round pick in 2012 by Detroit out of Division 3 Albion. His past two years have been riddled by hamstring and hernia injuries. Greenwood spent his rookie year on the Lions’ practice squad and began 2013 on it, but was signed to Dallas’s 53-man roster for several games before returning to Detroit’s practice squad. Later in 2013, he was added to the Lions’ roster and appeared in a few games. He was just cut by Detroit. Greenwood profiles as a big, tough cornerback with a strong tackling ability. Maybe he’ll get some looks if a defensive back is injured.

Justin Trattou, Defensive End

Trattou was signed by the Vikings and added to their active roster at the end of last season, when they were lacking a backup defensive end. He appeared in one game and got one tackle. Before that, he spent one-and-a-half years with the Giants, playing in 11 games and getting 4 tackles. Trattou looked pretty good throughout camp and in the preseason (had a sack at Tennessee). He never really had a chance to make the active roster as Corey Wootton and Scott Crichton outperformed the third-year veteran. If Crichton is struggling, the Vikings could carry five defensive ends and add Trattou to the defensive line rotation.

Kain Colter, Wide Receiver

Colter, most notable for his union efforts at Northwestern, is an inexperienced wide receiver. He did grab a few reps in college out wide, but was mostly the Wildcats’ quarterback. The undrafted free agent is obviously a very smart guy, which should help with route running and learning plays. He’s also extremely athletic, with good returning ability and speed. Colter’s weakness is blocking; he lacks strength and has short arms. It’d be interesting to see Norv Turner create a wildcat package with Colter at QB. He has a good chance of making the roster next year as a shifty slot receiver and maybe a punt returner.

 

Vikings Claim OT Mike Harris Off Waivers

The Minnesota Vikings on Sunday claimed offensive tackle Mike Harris off waivers from the San Diego Chargers.

Harris, 25 , has had 9 starts since 2012 with San Diego. Norv Turner was the head coach of the Chargers in 2012. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012, out of UCLA.

In a corresponding move, Minnesota released Austin Wentworth, who made the 53-man roster as a backup swing tackle behind Phil Loadholt and Matt Kalil.

Harris should replace Wentworth as the swing tackle.

Harris had the lowest grade of all tackles in the league in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. He had -0.2 grade in the preseason this year.

He displayed his excitement about his new job on twitter.

The Vikings also released linebacker Larry Dean to make room for tight end Marqueis Gray. Dean has been a special teams ace in Minnesota since 2011.

Vikings claim former Golden Gopher MarQueis Gray off waivers

MarQueis Gray is coming home.

The former Golden Gophers’ star Quarterback/Wide Receiver tweeted this morning that he has been claimed off waivers by the Vikings.

Gray spent the last year of his career as a backup TE for the Cleveland Browns, learning under new Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner, and will be useful in providing added depth at the TE position, which includes 2013 Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph and Rhett Ellison.

Gray’s 2013 offensive stats are provided below:

MarQueis Gray NFL Football Statistics | Pro-Football-Reference.com.

Vikings Cut Roster to 53

On Saturday, the Vikings released or designated to IR 22 players. A couple were surprising, and most were expected. We’ll tell you what shocked us, and what the Vikings roster is going to look like going forward.

Cuts:

Zac Kerin, C Expected

Kerin was an UDFA who was behind John Sullivan and Joe Berger on the depth chart. I’m surprised he made it to the second day of cuts.

Chase Baker, DT Expected

Baker has been on and off the active roster for the past two years. He was beaten out by Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson.

Kain Colter, WR Expected 

Colter, a college QB, has limited experience playing wide receiver but with quickness and sure hands, he can develop on the practice squad and maybe make the team next year.

Isame Faciane, DT Expected

An undrafted free agent, Faciane had a good camp. Practice squad candidate for sure.

Joe Banyard, RB Expected

Banyard had a great showing in the last preseason game but the Vikings had already made up their minds, giving Matt Asiata the #3 running back spot.

Jeff Baca, G Somewhat unexpected

Baca, drafted in 2012, was the backup guard for the past two years. He ‘ll apparently be replaced by Vlad Ducasse, a veteran who was with the Jets last year.

Donte Foster, WR Expected

This undrafted free agent had a couple sweet catches at the end of preseason game #4, but didn’t do enough to beat out Rodney Smith for the sixth wide receiver spot.

Chase Ford, TE Unexpected

Ford, coming back from foot injury, was expected to be Kyle Rudolph’s backup. Instead, both he and Allen Reisner were cut, leaving Rhett Ellison as the only remaining TE along with Rudolph. The Vikings will shop for one in the free agent market as cuts are announced.

Kendall James, Kind of expected

James, a personal favorite of mine, is another practice squad guy. A 6th round pick this year, he’s still raw but has blazing speed.

Justin Jackson, Expected

Jackson was picked up a few weeks ago after being waived by the Lions. He has impressive measureables, but wasn’t here long enough to learn the system. Expect to see him land on the practice squad.

Julian Posey, CB Expected

Posey, who played in a couple games with the Browns last year, was at the bottom of the depth chart. He had a pick vs. Tennessee, but that wasn’t enough to get him on the roster.

Allen Reisner, TE Unexpected

I predicted both Reisner and Ford would make the roster, and neither did. He had three touchdowns in the preseason, and showed a rapport with Teddy Bridgewater.

Mike Remmers, T Expected

Remmers being cut leaves Austin Wentworth as the backup swing tackle. I thought there would be two, but apparently not. Remmers had a mediocre camp and preseason.

Justin Trattou, DE Expected

Trattou had a shot to be a backup defensive end, but apparently they’re OK with having just Corey Wootton and Scott Crichton backing up Robison and Griffen.

Dominique Williams, RB Expected

I think this guy has the potential to make an impact next year or the year after that. He’s a little raw, and will spend 2014 on the practice squad.

Mike Zimmer, LB Expected

The aptly-named linebacker performed better than expected in the preseason, but still had no shot at making the team. Possible addition to the practice squad.

Kurt Coleman, S Unexpected

Coleman, a free agent signed in the offseason, had a good preseason with a pick and some nice tackles. He was expected to start Week alongside Harrison Smith.

Chris Crocker, S Somewhat unexpected

Crocker, a Zimmer favorite, was brought in at the end of camp but didn’t show enough. He was beat out by rookie Antone Exum.

Fred Evans, DT Shocker

Fred Evans is a top 10 backup defensive tackle. This is a horrible move by Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer. He is a valuable and underrated part of the Viking defense. More to come on this later.

Antonio Richardson, OT Unexpected

I thought the Vikings were going to keep two backup tackles, and if they didn’t, Richardson would be the one. It appears he screwed up his knee in the game at Tennessee and was designated to injured reserve, so maybe we’ll see him on the team next year.

Jamarca Sanford, S Expected

Sanford, a longtime Viking, was also sent to IR. He may be battling for a spot again next year.

 

 

Jerome Simpson Suspended 3 Weeks

The NFL on Friday morning upheld its’ suspension of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson. Simpson had appealed the suspension about two weeks ago in New York City.

Simpson was arrested in November 2013 for driving under the influence and refusing to submit to a chemical test. He avoided jail time in a plea deal.

This is not the first time Simpson has been suspended. He was suspended two seasons ago on marijuana charges, missing three weeks.

He’ll miss the first three games of this season.

Predicting the Vikings’ 53-man roster

The Vikings roster has to be cut to 53 players by tomorrow afternoon, so I thought I’d put together my predictions on who makes the team.

Quarterbacks

Matt Cassel

Teddy Bridgewater

Christian Ponder

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson

Matt Asiata

Jerick McKinnon

Fullbacks

Jerome Felton

Tight Ends

Kyle Rudolph

Chase Ford

Rhett Ellison

Allen Reisner

Wide Receivers

Greg Jennings

Cordarrelle Patterson

Jerome Simpson

Jarius Wright

Adam Thielen

Rodney Smith

Offensive Linemen

Phil Loadholt

Matt Kalil

Brandon Fusco

John Sullivan

Charlie Johnson

Joe Berger

Tiny Richardson

Austin Wentworth

Defensive Linemen

Sharrif Floyd

Linval Joseph

Fred Evans

Shamar Stephen

Tom Johnson

Defensive Ends

Brian Robison

Everson Griffen

Corey Wooton

Justin Trattou

Linebackers

Jasper Brinkley

Anthony Barr

Audie Cole

Brandon Watts

Chad Greenway

Gerald Hodges

Safeties

Harrison Smith

Kurt Coleman

Robert Blanton

Andrew Sendejo

Cornerbacks

Xavier Rhodes

Captain Munnerlyn

Josh Robinson

Marcus Sherels

Jabari Price

Kendall James

Special Teams

Blair Walsh

Jeff Locke

Cullen Loeffler

 

Vikings Beat Titans, Go Undefeated in Preseason

The Minnesota Vikings put forth a strong defensive effort and Christian Ponder, Joe Banyard and Blair Walsh supplied the offense in a 19-3 thumping of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in Nashville.

Very few starters played on offense, with Teddy Bridgewater starting alongside Banyard, the fourth-string running back.None of the starting offensive linemen played. Both Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings were listed as inactive.

On defense, it was a different story. Jasper Brinkley started at middle linebacker, with his competitor Audie Cole playing at weakside linebacker.  Anthony Barr was rested, with Mike Zimmer starting at the other linebacker position.

The real story of the night, though, was Joe Banyard.

Banyard had what you might call a breakout game on Thursday night. He had 18 carries for 111 yards, and should have had a touchdown but dropped a pass from Christian Ponder.  His field vision looked especially good, as Banyard’s reads reminded us a little bit of Adrian Peterson.

The 2014 season will be Banyard’s third in the National Football League. The 25-year-old spent most of last season on the Vikings’ practice squad. He appeared in a couple games in December after the special teams corps became riddled with injuries.

Banyard really doesn’t have a chance of making the roster, as it’s pretty evident that Matt Asiata will make the roster. Jerick McKinnon, who the team drafted in the fourth round this year, should be the third down back.

The Viking defense applied consistent pressure to whoever the Titans quarterback was all night long. Corey Wooton highlighted with a strip-sack, and Justin Trattou also had a sack that was aided by a diving Audie Cole. The defense consistently made the Titans go 3-and-out; Tennessee didn’t score until a field goal in the fourth quarter.

Christian Ponder played surprisingly well after an abysmal training camp. Playing for a roster spot, he completed 12/15 passes for 121 yards. Ponder had a couple of nice completions to undrafted free agent Donte Foster.

Blair Walsh silenced the haters tonight, going 4/4 in field goals with a long of 45 yards. He’s made his last 7 field goals after performing poorly in the first two preseason games.

As for injuries, Adam Thielen hurt his hip in the second quarter and did not return. Zach Line also left with an ankle injury.

Vikings at Titans: Observations From the First Half

The Vikings are at it again, up 16-0 at halftime in Nashville.

Blair Walsh went 3/3 on field goals in the first half, with his longest coming from 45 yards. He has now made his past 6 field goals after missing two in the second game.

Teddy Bridgewater engineered another touchdown drive, which isn’t surprising. He capped it with his fifth touchdown of the preseason to his “main man” Adam Thielen. Bridgewater went without his gloves tonight, most likely because of the rain. He went 4/9 for 17 yards. Hmmmm….I wonder if they really do help.

Josh Robinson got beat on a couple plays in the first quarter. After an a training camp in which he was injured almost the whole time, he needs to impress the coaching staff enough to make the roster. I don’t think he’s a definite lock. Mike Zimmer made it apparent that he wasn’t happy with Robinson’s recovery from a hamstring injury. He said that a player “can’t make a team from the tub” and called Robinson “that other guy.”

Joe Banyard was darting through holes throughout the first half. Right now, he’s basically playing for the possibility of getting signed in free agency by another team. The fact that Asiata isn’t playing tonight means that Asiata has made the team. I’d be pretty shocked if the Vikings carried four running backs. Still, Banyard looked very impressive in the first half.

Both Audie Cole and Jasper Brinkley started, with Brinkley in the middle and Cole playing the weakside backer. That may affirm that Brinkley is the starting MLB, but it could also mean that the competition isn’t over. We really can’t assume anything until Week 1.

Christian Ponder didn’t look all that bad (astoundingly). He came into the game and on his first drive went 3/4. He should have gone 4/4 with a touchdown pass, but Joe Banyard dropped the ball in the end zone. Ponder ended up 5/7  for 52 yards.

So much for no injuries tonight. Adam Thielen left in the second quarter after his leg was pulled two different ways by a couple of Titan defenders. Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune tweeted that Thielen had a hip injury, and is questionable to return. Before getting hurt, Thielen had 3 catches for 30 yards, along with his first-ever touchdown.

Peterson Denies He Called Cowboys To Tell Them He’d Like To Play For Them

Adrian Peterson

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson denied a report that said he called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and told him he would like to play for the Cowboys in the future, Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

“This was a casual conversation between NFL colleagues in which I never indicated I wanted to leave the Vikings,” Peterson said in a statement released by the team this afternoon. “I have always said I understand the NFL is a business but that I would love to retire as a Viking.”

According to an ESPN report, Peterson and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke on the phone in June. The reporter only heard one side of the conversation — what Jones said to Peterson.

“Well, I understand, Adrian,” Jones reportedly said. “I’d like that, too … Well, I love your story. I love your daddy’s story. I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”

In the report, the ESPN reporter writes, “Listening to half the conversation, it is obvious Peterson is telling Jones he wants to play for the Cowboys.” At no point did the reporter state that he actually heard Peterson say that he would like to play for the Cowboys or encourage Jones to make a trade. But the report stated that Jones confirmed that Peterson told him that he wanted to play for Dallas.

Peterson grew up in Texas and has said multiple times that he was a Cowboys fan as a child.

The report came two days after Peterson said he wanted to retire with the Vikings.

What to Expect in Vikings Preseason Game #4

It’s really nice to finally have a rebuttal when people tell me my team stinks. 3 and 0 is refreshing for Vikings fans such as myself, even if it’s the preseason. Tonight, our men in purple will take on the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in Nashville.

Traditionally, the fourth preseason game is when you rest your starters and the young players get most of the time. It’s the finally opportunity for guys to prove their worth before the Vikings have to trim the roster to the required 53.

Basically, the main goal of Mike Zimmer and the coaching staff is to come out preseason week four with no injuries to key players. The best way to achieve that goal is to keep those players on the sideline.

There are some position battles that can still be won or lost tonight.

There was a twist in the backup cornerback battle this week as Derek Cox was cut. Cox, a fifth-year veteran, had a good camp and was the highest rated cornerback on the team in the preseason according to Pro Football Focus. He was expected to make the team. His release opens up the door for Kendall James, Jabari Price, Shaun Prater and some others to occupy his spot.

My best guess it’s a competition between James and Prater for the final roster spot. Adam Thielen performed well returning punts last week, so Marcus Sherels, a sub-par cornerback, could be on the bubble as well.

The tight end spot sure is getting interesting. After Chase Ford was activated, earlier than expected, Mike Higgins (formerly of the Saints) was released. That leaves Ford, Allen Reisner, Rhett Ellison and Kyle Rudolph as the remaining tight ends.

It’s rare for a team to carry 4 tight ends and six wide receivers on their 53-man roster. Norv Turner has a decision to make; does he keep Rodney Smith (I think Thielen has won the competition for WR5), or does he keep Allen Reisner. Reisner proved he can be a threat in the red zone Saturday night in Kansas City. He caught two touchdown passes from Teddy Bridgewater, bringing up his preseason touchdown total to 3.

Tonight’s game should be stress-free, as there is no chance of injury to the starters. It should be entertaining, though, to see the Vikings chase an undefeated preseason record.