MINNEAPOLIS -- A day after trimming the roster to 53 players, the Minnesota Vikings did not claim anyone off the waiver wire and saw two of their Saturday cuts they had hoped to sneak onto the practice squad -- kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik and wide receiver Brandon Zylstra -- picked up by other teams.
The Vikings once again made changes to their specialists’ unit by signing former Browns punter Britton Colquitt and releasing Matt Wile. Just more than three weeks after sending a fifth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Vedvik, neither of the punters the Vikings had in training camp are on the roster.
Headed into a week of preparation for their season opener against Atlanta, here are a few answers to the biggest questions surrounding how the Vikings constructed their roster.
Are the Vikings really rolling with only four receivers?
Yep, and there’s not too much to be concerned with here. While an injury to Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen would put the passing game in a bind, Minnesota has players who can get downfield elsewhere. In a Gary Kubiak offense, most times the No. 3 receiver is actually a tight end, so it’s not surprising to see Minnesota keep four at the position. Expect to see Irv Smith Jr. utilized as a stretch-the-field threat and Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Conklin making contested catches over the middle of the field. The wide receiver group is top heavy, so Chad Beebe carving out a role as a possession type while the Vikings tap into Olabisi Johnson's upside will provide QB Kirk Cousins with other weapons so he doesn’t have to key in on Diggs and Thielen all the time. There are still a handful of good receivers who went unclaimed, so we’ll see if Minnesota opts to sign one.
Is the kicking/punting situation finally settled?
It depends how you define the word "settled." The Vikings' decision to let Wile walk and scoop up Colquitt after he was released comes down to more than just finding a new punter. The reviews on Colquitt as a holder are positive, which is an area Wile struggled with and forced the Vikings to turn to Beebe. The Vikings' game of musical chairs with their specialists all offseason seems to be slowing down. They have Dan Bailey as their kicker, Colquitt as the punter/holder and Austin Cutting as the long snapper. This is the unit they’re rolling with going into Week 1. Faced with a time crunch to get the entire kicking operation on the same page, these players will be under an intense microscope in the season opener.
How does the cornerback depth look?
Better than it has, but the Vikings don’t want to find themselves in a situation where they’re having to rely on seventh-rounder Kris Boyd and newly acquired Mark Fields to play significant time until Mike Hughes is ready to return. Both are still considered raw, so the next few weeks will be largely telling for their development if they're called upon to play. By not keeping a fifth receiver or sixth linebacker, Minnesota was able to dedicate six spots on the roster to its cornerbacks. Boyd and Fields, along with safety Marcus Epps, who played some slot corner during the preseason, give the Vikings a cushion behind their starters in the defensive backfield.