Roster battle: Wide receiver equals wide open

Greg Camarillo (Kevin Brown/Viking Update)

One of the biggest battles for roster spots is taking place at the wide receiver position, where the backups will get plenty of action on Saturday. Two spots are open and it appears three players are fighting for those.

The Vikings are preparing for Seattle with roster spots in mind. It can be argued that the coaching staff likely knows all but a handful of players who will comprise the final roster.

One or two of those yet-to-be claimed roster spots are at wide receiver. Following Thursday's practice, head coach Leslie Frazier was asked a wide range of questions dealing with such topics as injuries and the shifting of roles for different players.

On the injury topic, Frazier said that both Percy Harvin (ribs) and Greg Camarillo (groin) would be sitting out Saturday's game at Seattle. Shelving the team's top two slot receivers will give others a chance to showcase themselves as they battle for roster spots or the practice squad. At this time of year, opportunity is something a lot of players on the roster need.

"It is," Frazier said of the additional game reps the backup receivers will get. "That's one of the reasons that reasons we didn't want to rush Percy or Greg. If this were a regular-season game, things would be different, but we really need to evaluate that position. When we talked about it, we said, ‘You know what? We know Camarillo. We know Percy. We want to get to know these other guys much better so can make the right decision.'"

While that may have sounded like a ringing endorsement of Camarillo having his roster spot cemented, Frazier, in classic Chicago style, cautioned about jumping to that conclusion. Camarillo is not on the list of those guaranteed a roster spot.

It seems quite clear that Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins have locked three of what is presumed to be five spots on the final roster. If Camarillo had one locked down as well, that would likely leave Devin Aromashodu and Jaymar Johnson being the co-leaders in the battle for just one roster spot. However, Frazier was quick to point out that Camarillo's spot on the roster hasn't been written in pen just yet.

"Not at all," Frazier said of a competition for just one available roster spot at wide receiver. "That's not reality because there are some spots that are open. We're not sure who the fourth receiver is going to be. We're not sure who the fifth receiver is going to be. We are somewhat certain who our third receiver is going to be, but there is a battle for that fourth and fifth spot for sure. So special teams will factor and nobody has really nailed those spots yet."

Camarillo was the Vikings punt returner last year, lining up for 59 of the 64 punts the Vikings received last year. Of the 59 punts he took, he called for a fair catch on roughly one-third of them (20) and averaged 9.2 yards on the ones he returned. Will that be enough to lock down his roster spot and leave the final battle up to Aromashodu, Johnson and a handful of young hopefuls?

In the end, it would seem that if Camarillo was fighting for his job, he would insist on not sitting out tomorrow night's game. In reality, Camarillo might have one of those final two spots all but locked, but Frazier isn't tipping his hand just yet.


  • Exposing injured players in meaningless preseason games doesn't seem to be an option Frazier likes. Not only will Harvin and Camarillo sit out Saturday, so will Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring), Anthony Herrera (knee), Kenny Onatolu (foot) and Heath Farwell (hamstring).

  • Considering how many of the injuries the Vikings have are on the offensive side of the ball, it might be more difficult for Donovan McNabb to get his feet under him in the new offense the Vikings are running. Until he has all his weapons, the package isn't complete.

  • Who are the best Vikings players? According to their Madden 12 individual ratings, the Vikings have a hierarchy. As expected, Adrian Peterson leads the pack with a score of 97, as does Kevin Williams. Jared Allen was next at 94, followed by Steve Hutchinson, who checked in with a 92. Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson tallied overall ratings of 90 and 88, respectively. Percy Harvin was given a score of 85 – the same score assigned to former Vikings Sidney Rice and Bryant McKinnie. At the time the initial game was designed Donovan McNabb wasn't a Viking yet, but the Madden 12 folks gave Tarvaris Jackson a score of 72, one point less than rookie Christian Ponder. In the final irony, the game listed long snapper Cullen Loeffler, as a tight end.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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