Minnesota Vikings' projected roster

Examining the Minnesota Vikings' roster:


The Vikings could free up some roster space if they carried only two QBs and traded Ponder for a late-round pick at some point; he didn't play at all in the team's second preseason game against Arizona, and it's possible the Vikings could cut him if they can't find a trade market. Ponder could still have some value in an emergency, if the Vikings aren't ready to put Bridgewater on the field and they need someone to fill in if Cassel is injured or ineffective.


Asiata has played well during training camp, and is listed ahead of McKinnon for the No. 2 running back spot behind Peterson at the moment. At the very least, both could have distinct roles behind Peterson, with Asiata as a downhill runner and McKinnon as a threat in the passing game.


Vikings general manager Rick Spielman singled out Thielen -- who spent last year on the Vikings' practice squad -- as a player who had improved from last year during the Vikings' minicamp, and the Minnesota State product has been the darling of training camp so far. Undrafted free agent Kain Colter got an $8,000 signing bonus from the Vikings, but the 6-foot-5 Smith sneaks in ahead of him to give the group a bigger target; he showed on Saturday night what his size can do for him, when he caught the game-winning touchdown from Bridgewater on a fade route.


Ford is still working his way back from a broken foot, but coach Mike Zimmer has sounded more optimistic about the timetable recently, and it's looking more likely he won't have to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list. If he is still hurt, that could open the door for Michael Higgins, who caught two passes for 27 yards in the Vikings' preseason opener against the Raiders.


The Vikings seem set with their starting five from last season, which means Yankey would have to wait for a chance to push Johnson at left guard; everyone from coach Mike Zimmer to offensive line coach Jeff Davidson seems to like the continuity the Vikings have enjoyed on the line. Richardson was not wearing a knee brace in the Vikings' second preseason game on Saturday night, and seems to be getting healthier after another player rolled up on his leg during training camp. If he's not healthy enough to be the Vikings' swing tackle, Mike Remmers or Kevin Murphy could win the last spot.


This might be the deepest position group on the Vikings' roster, and in Mike Zimmer's defensive line rotation, they could all play. Wootton and Crichton give the Vikings a pair of versatile backups who can play inside or outside, and Johnson and Evans figure to be the primary backups at three-technique and nose tackle, respectively. Johnson has also seen time at three-technique tackle in the Vikings' nickel rush package. If there's one player on the roster who could compel the Vikings to make room somewhere else, it might be Shamar Stephen, the seventh-round pick who has impressed Vikings coaches throughout camp and has seen time at both the three-technique and nose tackle positions.


In Cincinnati, Zimmer had linebacking groups of just six and five players after training camp the past two seasons. If the position is similarly staffed this season, it could mean the Vikings will cut seventh-round pick Brandon Watts. There are plenty of questions at the position overall -- none of the three spots in the Vikings' base defense is completely solidified -- but in Barr, Hodges, Mauti and Cole, the Vikings have some young talent to work with.


There's a large group of defensive backs on the roster, but with as many prolific passing attacks as the Vikings will face, it makes sense to keep a large group of them -- especially in light of how many three-safety looks Zimmer has employed in camp and how many young players he could try to stash on the roster. Price has been one of the pleasant surprises of camp; he's been willing to compete at slot cornerback, and earned a reputation as a solid tackler in run support from his days at North Carolina. The Vikings still have a logjam at safety, and the next two preseason games -- as well as special teams involvement -- could lead the team to part with one of the veterans next to Harrison Smith (Sanford, Sendejo, Coleman or Blanton).


The group returns unchanged from what the Vikings had on their roster last year. Locke punted better toward the end of the season, and has already put in some work getting to know the wind patterns at TCF Bank Stadium.