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Vikings players most impacted by the lockout

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted July 28, 2011 @ 12:21 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Here's a look at the five Vikings who were most impacted by the lockout, in reverse order:

5. QB Joe Webb — His two starts last season were an adventure, but he showed some intriguing ability as a quarterback. Perhaps he's destined to be a spot starter, occasional "Wildcat" option and career clipboard holder, but the Vikings still want to develop him. An offseason of work in minicamps and OTAs would have served him well because he would have received a ton of snaps with the first-team offense.

4. RB Toby Gerhart — Because of his intelligence and college work in Jim Harbaugh's pro-style offense, Gerhart was expected to be the most pro-ready rookie of the 2010 draft class. Instead, he was a mild disappointment who proved to be an adequate but hardly invaluable replacement for Adrian Peterson. Gerhart needs to work on his contributions to the passing game and — like Peterson before him — must improve his ball security. Gerhart would have received almost all of the first-team reps had there not been a lockout.

3. OG Chris DeGeare — Little was expected of DeGeare as a rookie, which was supposed to be a redshirt type of season. However, Steve Hutchinson went down with an unexpected season-ending injury and DeGeare was thrown into a very tough position. He showed some promise but appeared hesitant and lacking toughness. Part of it had to be rookie insecurity, as the coaches talked about his grit and work ethic. DeGeare might get his chance to learn the new offense — and NFL life — in his second season, but you can't overstate the value of an offseason's work, especially for an O-lineman who needs polish.

2. CB Chris Cook — It has not been the smoothest transition to the NFL for Cook, who opened eyes a year ago in training camp and was thought to be an instant contributor, but he struggled with two knee injuries and lost his confidence after a miserable game against the Packers last season. Then, right after the lockout, Cook was arrested for gun possession, even if the charges later were dropped. The biggest reason Cook could have used a full offseason has mostly to do with his rehabbing knee. But he also is a young player the coaches must help mature so that he can play a more prominent role.

1. QB Christian Ponder — Certainly, every 2011 rookie has been cheated this offseason. But you could argue that it hits hardest for players such as Ponder — for a ton of reasons. One, he's a quarterback, and they need all the work they can get in a new offense. Two, he's in a situation where he might have earned a Week One starting job; now that is looking less likely. Three, he has something to prove to Minnesotans. Ponder was not the most popular pick in franchise history, so he already will start behind the eight-ball a bit. A full offseason might have helped deflect some of that negativity. Now he has to hit the ground running without that typical three-month head start prior to training camp.

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