Jerome Felton, Jerome Simpson and Christian Ponder, 3 Vikings Players on Their Way Out?

NFL Training camp is entering its second week and we have our first series of preseason games due in the next few days. Camp battles are already being fought, won and lost, so let us look at three starters from last season’s Minnesota Vikings team who are looking unlikely to make the final roster just one week in.

On their way out:

Jerome Felton

That’s right, the fifth highest rated fullback in Madden 15 is looking likely to be searching for a new team come the start of season. Now let me state this isn’t due to a performance issue, as Felton has been, well, what you would expect from a blocking FB who is rated so highly. He has blocked well but here in lies the problem. Norv Turner’s new offense asks more from the fullback than just blocking, and in a league that has seen the FB go the way of the Dodo this could signal the end of Felton. Add to this how impressive Zack Line has been at the position and his ability to catch and run, the writing could be on the wall for Felton.

The chances of Felton making the team, comes down to one issue: what kind of fullback do the Vikings want? If they want a pure blocking FB who can open run lanes for Adrian Peterson, then Felton will be kept, but if they want more of a hybrid tight end/ fullback player then, sorry Jerome but you are out and Zack Line is in.

Chances of being cut: 6/10

Jerome Simpson

Simpson has been very quiet this camp. He potentially has a four to six game ban hanging over his head for a DWI arrest last season and we are expecting to hear any day about this. He was resigned with a minimum one year contract during the offseason on another ‘prove it’ deal. What makes Simpson a likely candidate to be cut is how impressive both Rodney Smith and Adam Thielen have been. Both were practice squad members for the Vikings last season with Smith seeing some special teams work. Both of these receivers have started making a rapport with rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater, while he practices with the second team offense and this could bode well for them making the team.

The Vikings are expected to go into the season with 4/5 wide outs on their roster with three of the positions secure between, Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Jarius Wright, leaving either one or two positions open. There is an interesting possibility that could occur, with Simpson’s probable suspension coming, the Vikings could elect to keep him on the team (he would not count against the final 53 while serving his suspension) and choose to cut or keep him after this is served. The only issue with this could be how his salary is structured and how it could affect the cap.

Chances of being cut: 8/10

Christian Ponder

What a difference a year makes. The unquestioned starter at the beginning of last season, Ponder is now firmly entrenched at the bottom of the quarterback depth chart. Ponder has been mostly a spectator during this training camp only having a handful of throws during practice and all of them with the third team. Now the Vikings really do not want to have to cut Ponder, as his final year salary of $2.4 million is entirely guaranteed. Preferably they would like to trade him for a late round draft pick next season. Ponder hasn’t helped this though, as the passes he has made have been sloppy and he is showing more of a regression during camp. Expect Ponder to get a lot of garbage playing time during preseason to try and boost his trade stock to a backup QB needy team.

With roster spots at a premium, many teams only take two quarterbacks into the season. Add to this the potential need to add an extra defensive back to the roster due to injury concerns (this unit was decimated by injury last season and has shown a lot of talent so far during camp), Ponder could be cut come the final roster moves.

Changes of being cut: 6/10

Get out of jail free card:

Chad Greenway

At the start of camp, Greenway would have been featured highly on this list. After a poor season last year, contract renegotiation during the off season along with age (31), Greenway seemed to be on his way out of Minnesota, if he did not perform during camp. Perform he has and within a week he was already getting days off (his first ever during camp) as the coaching staff needed to see what other players could do behind him. Greenway has been the veteran the unit needed and has recovered well from a broken wrist he had last season. He has gone from potential roster casualty to solidified starter during the first week of camp.

 

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Main Photo by Ben Garvin