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Rookies make way onto Vikings' initial 53

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Posted Sept. 05, 2011 @ 1:55 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

New Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier apparently isn't afraid to put his stamp on his team. That came in the form of cutting several veterans who were bastions of the Brad Childress era, including TE Jeff Dugan and LB Heath Farwell.

OL Ryan Cook, another Childress holdover who by most accounts had a solid training camp, also was cut.

Those veterans were shown the door, along with second-year OG Chris DeGeare, to make room for several rookies. Some of the roster decisions — which clearly are not final, with the possibility to make more moves this week in advance of the opener at San Diego — were a bit surprising.

Making the team for now are undrafted rookies LB Larry Dean and TE Allen Reisner. The Vikings were lean at linebacker but kept four tight ends and no true fullback.

Also making the team are two rookie OL projects, DeMarcus Love and Brandon Fusco, and two unheralded journeymen, Patrick Brown and Seth Olsen. Only Olsen (three games in 2009 with the Broncos) has any experience among those four reserves. Jon Cooper, who has played in 13 career games (one start), is the other reserve lineman with NFL experience. The team opted to keep 10 offensive linemen on the initial 53-man roster.

Reisner caught the ball well in camp, and the team apparently thought it best not to try to sneak him through waivers. He's a younger, cheaper alternative to Dugan, although Dugan proved he could play fullback. The team has no true fullback on the roster and opted to keep only three running backs, a curious decision considering backups Toby Gerhart and Lorenzo Booker suffered injuries recently.

Farwell was regarded as one of the team's better special-teamers, although his play dropped off last season and his salary was restrictive for a team needing the cap space. Dean stood out on special teams during the preseason, even with two penalties in the finale. It's unknown if the Vikings consider him worthy of defensive snaps on the weak side right away.

The Vikings opted to retain 11 defensive backs, although injuries clearly played a part there. Sixth-round FS Mistral Raymond continued to catch the coaching staff's eye throughout camp, and though he might not be ready for a starting assignment now, his potential rise up the depth chart is something to chart as the season goes on.

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