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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Sep 3, 2012

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday during the offseason we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

 

We hear a lot about practice squad players this time of year every year and I still don’t really get which players can be practice squad players and which ones can’t. What’s to prevent a team from stashing players on the practice squad to keep them from becoming free agents?
-- Jonah A.

That’s a good question, Jonah, and I’m glad you asked it because the practice squad can be an important roster function for teams to develop players, so fans should have a good idea of how it works. Here are the basic rules…

-- Not just any player can be placed on a team’s Practice Squad; only players who do not have an accrued season of free agent credit or players who have a season of accrued free agent credit but were on the team’s Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during that accrued season.

-- A player may serve on the Practice Squad a maximum of three seasons.

-- A player is deemed to have served on a Practice Squad in a season if he has passed the team’s physical exam and has been a member of a team’s Practice Squad for at least three regular season or postseason games (a bye week counts as a game as long as the player is not released until after the regular season or postseason weekend in question).

-- If a player has served two seasons on a Practice Squad, he is deemed to have served a third season if he has passed the club’s physical exam and has been a member of a club’s Practice Squad for at least one regular season or postseason game (including a bye week).

-- Practice Squad eligibility stays with a player for his career, meaning that one season’s worth of credit on the Practice Squad with the Vikings goes with a player if that player is signed to another team’s Practice Squad.

I really like some of the decisions Rick Spielman and the front office made on cut day. One that I disagreed with was Sage (Rosenfels). Why did we release him? He had the best stats, and he was the only veteran on the depth chart.
-- Tony

This is one of the most common questions submitted to my mailbox this week. And that makes sense, given the factors Tony listed in this question. To me, Rosenfels’ value to this team was less about his stats (he had a 122.9 preseason passer rating) and more about being a 12-year veteran who knew how to prepare as an NFL quarterback. That can rub off on younger quarterbacks, so even if a veteran doesn’t have the physical tools to play at a high level, younger quarterbacks with those physical tools can learn the ins and outs of preparing as an NFL passer should.

Ultimately, the people making these decisions know a lot more about this than me, so I support their decision and I also acknowledge there are likely many more factors that go into these decisions than just preseason stats and years of service.

Why keep both Jerome Felton and Matt Asiata? It seems like they can play the same role (blocking fullback), and by keep both of them we have to let someone else go. Also there’s Rhett Ellison, who could play fullback, too.
-- Matthew B.
Gary, IN

Looks can be deceiving. Asiata carries his pads at times like a fullback, plus he wears a jersey number (#48) that’s typically used by fullbacks. But I wouldn’t characterize Asiata as a fullback. From what I’ve seen the past two years when Asiata has been on the team, he has nimble feet, sneaky-good speed and good vision. I like him better as a running back than I do in the fullback role.

Felton, on the other hand, is more of a true fullback to me. Felton measures in at 6-0, 248 pounds, which is the body composition of a fullback. Some of the League’s best fullbacks weight in at least this heavy – San Diego’s Le’Ron McClain is listed at 6-0, 260 pounds, the NY Jets John Conner is 5-11, 245, Green Bay’s John Kuhn 6-0, 250, Jacksonville’s Greg Jones is 6-1, 265 and Baltimore’s Vonta Leach 6-0, 260. Asiata weighs in at a svelte 234.

If you want a true fullback on the roster, Felton is the man for the job. Asiata is more of a running back.

I saw that WR Deion Branch was released. Is it too crazy to think that the Vikings might take a look at picking him up for the season? Or would it not be worth it?
-- Ian S.
Strasburg, VA

It’s not crazy to think the Vikings would take a look at Branch, although he doesn’t seem to fit the theme of players the Vikings have been interested in leading up to the regular season – young players with upside, as opposed to established veterans looking to extend their careers. There’s a process the team goes through to evaluate each player that becomes available, and I’m sure the Vikings will go through that process as it pertains to Branch. But remember, vested veterans have guaranteed contracts if they are on a roster in Week 1. Branch is a vested veteran, so I wouldn’t be surprised if interested teams waited until after Week 1 to try and sign him.