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Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - The Minnesota Vikings do not need to submit their official 53-man roster to the league until 7:00pm central this coming Friday (August 31st) but many of the decisions have already been made.
Some of the spots will be filled by the likes of superstars. Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Jared Allen are all assured a spot on the Vikings week one roster. Other spots will be filled by semi-established players with little to no competition. Christian Ponder, Jasper Brinkley and Chris Cook fit the bill here. Still more are likely to make the final roster based off of their merit and value coming out of the 2012 NFL Draft (Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson and Matt Kalil). And then there is the group that will be fighting and clawing Thursday night in Houston for a spot on the Vikings final 53-man roster.
By my count, there are 39 such individuals banking on a good performance Thursday night.
Barring any further injuries or unexpected stellar performances against the Texans, here is how I see the current 75-man roster widdling itself down to the final 53.
QB: Christian Ponder, Sage Rosenfels, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
RB: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Matt Asiata
WR: Jerome Simpson*, Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton, Jarius Wright
TE: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Allen Reisner, Rhett Ellison
OL: Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Joe Berger, Geoff Schwartz, DeMarcus Love, Pat Brown
DL: Jared Allen, Letroy Guion, Kevin Williams, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Fred Evans, Christian Ballard, D'Aundre Reed, Jeff Charleston
LB: Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson, Marvin Mitchell, Audie Cole, Tyrone McKenzie
CB: Antoine Winfield, Chris Cook, Chris Carr, Josh Robinson, Brandon Burton, Zackary Bowman
S: Harrison Smith, Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo
P: Chris Kluwe
K: Blair Walsh
LS: Cullen Loeffler
*Simpson is suspended the first three games of the 2012 season and will not count against the 53-man roster.
Cut Players: Joe Webb, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Jordan Todman, Reggie Jones, Bobby Felder, Marcus Sherels, Eric Frampton, Lex Hilliard, Jerome Felton, Ryan D'Imperio, Larry Dean, Corey Paredes, Quentin Saulsberry, Chase Baker, Tyler Holmes, Austin Pasztor, Kevin Murphy, Chris DeGeare, Mickey Shuler, Trevor Guyton, and Nick Reed.
Outside of Joe Webb, it's tough to find any big surprises amongst those who I have being waived. I'll get to the Joe Webb prediction but first let's touch on a few semi-familiar names that didn't make my cut.
Marcus Sherels' value to the team in 2011 came primarily on kick and punt returns. With the drafting of Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton's offseason improvement at wide receiver, Sherels, who's cornerback play is suspect, no longer holds decent value on the roster. With questions in the defensive secondary always present for the Vikings, they can't afford to take up a roster spot for a sure handed returner who's elusive nature is average at best. Jarius Wright will get "first-team" punt returns and Stephen Burton will mix in with Percy Harvin on kick returns.
Lex Hilliard will likely join the previously departed Derrick Coleman as those who failed to impress on the field while fumbling their way off the team and Jordan Todman lost out on his chance by spending most of Training Camp and the preseason injured and on the sidelines. Matt Asiata flashed in both preseason game two and three and despite his fumble last week, Asiata's value as a FB/RB hybrid gives him the edge in my book over Hilliard and Todman.
Safety Eric Frampton made a name for himself on special teams cover teams over the past five years but failed to consistently crack the rotation on the defensive side of the ball. Frampton is one of the good guys in the NFL, but his value to the Vikings wore out when the team drafted Robert Blanton in the fifth round. Andrew Sendejo emerged as a player through Training Camp and into the Preseason and will likely fill Frampton's vacant role on special teams coverage.
Now on to Joe Webb...I'll be the first to admit that this is a pretty aggressive take considering the coaching staff told us as recently as Monday that Joe Webb was the number two QB, but Joe Webb does not have any value to the Minnesota Vikings.
When he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, the team admittedly didn't know what they were going to do with him. Webb, who worked out as a wide receiver at the UAB pro day after not being invited to the NFL Combine, joined a team that was led by future hall of fame QB Brett Favre and everybody's favorite coach's pet, Tarvaris Jackson. With little room at the QB spot, Webb actually appeared in multiple games at wide receiver for the Vikings over the next two years but he only reeled in one pass for nine yards.
Now, back to full-time quarterbacking duties in 2012, Joe Webb has failed to impress. Through the first three games of the preseason, Webb has only completed 50% of his passes for 152 yards and no touchdowns. With a passer rating of 62.4, Webb has also been sacked three times this preseason.
Simply put, Joe Webb cannot help the Vikings win football games. Nobody can take away the fact that he is a freak athlete. Nobody can deny that he is a hard worker and a good teammate. But as a below average NFL quarterback and a below average NFL receiver he might just be wasting a roster spot on this team.
In limited exposure this preseason, both Sage Rosenfels and McLeod Bethel-Thompson (MBT) have proven that they may be better at "quarterbacking" a team than Joe Webb.
You always know what you are going to get from Rosenfels. A real life "coach in a helmet," Sage proved his value last Friday night when he hopped into that crap-fest preseason game and led a lethargic Vikings offense down the field for their lone touchdown of the evening. He may not be splashy, but he is a serviceable backup quarterback to put in if Christian goes down.
MBT had a very impressive Training Camp, as far as fourth string quarterbacks can go. He proved to be a young gunslinger with a great attitude and a big arm. I believe that the Vikings went through camp trying their best not to let on how much they actually liked MBT in hopes that they could sneak him onto the practice squad before the regular season. In my mind, that won't work. Even with limited game time, I don't think that MBT would make it through waivers if the Vikings cut him.
Tuesday, coach Frazier alluded to the fact that come Thursday's final preseason game, Joe Webb will play only the first quarter, Sage the second and then McLeod Bethel-Thompson will play the entire second half saying that they "already know what they have in Joe [Webb] and Sage [Rosenfels]."
Mark my words, if McLeod Bethel-Thompson comes out Thursday night and has a solid performance he will make this team in the place of Joe Webb.
What do you think?
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings' updates and breaking Vikings' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN