Five questions with PFW Vikings correspondent Tom Pelissero

Posted Dec. 15, 2011 @ 10:27 a.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Here are five questions we posed about the Vikings to PFW correspondent Tom Pelissero, who is the senior editor of 1500ESPN.com in Minneapolis:

PFW: We know Christian Ponder is the starting quarterback. But given Joe Webb's flashes in the Lions game, what is the best way to utilize him going forward?

TP: That's a question that probably won't be answered until the offseason. As a receiver, the knock on Webb behind the scenes has been that he just can't catch. He also hasn't gotten much time on task to improve his route running, because he mostly practices at quarterback. The smart thing to do is get a veteran backup to Ponder — possibly Sage Rosenfels, who is a favorite of GM Rick Spielman's — and let Webb rep on specific packages so he can play 10-15 snaps every game. He's too rare an athletic talent to hold a clipboard.

PFW: Is it a little surprising the team hasn't been able to get the ball more in TE Kyle Rudolph's hands?

TP: To a degree. He has elite hands and he knows how to use his size to his advantage when matched against smaller players on the perimeter. But he's not a real fast or sudden guy, and at times he struggles to get separation. I do wonder if the hamstring tendon avulsion that ended his final season at Notre Dame is still slowing him down a hair. He's still a weapon in small spaces, though, so it's sure odd when he sits on the sideline for 6-of-9 red-zone snaps, as he did a couple weeks back against Denver.
 
PFW: Concerning CB Cedric Griffin, is the only reason he remains a Viking because the team is so desperate for healthy bodies at the position?

TP: That, and perhaps some faint hope that his reconstructed knees will be in better shape by next July, making it worth giving him one more shot to be a part of the plan (or even the backup plan) in camp. The Vikings just cut Griffin another check in March for a deferred portion of the $2.5 million signing bonus they gave him on an extension in 2009. They're swallowing a heck of a bad-luck investment if they just cut him loose now. But I still don't buy him being a starter for this team again.

PFW: Is left tackle the greatest need for this team as we get closer to the offseason?

TP: Yes. It's a core position and they don't have one. Charlie Johnson probably will end up at guard next season. Phil Loadholt doesn't have the feet for it. DeMarcus Love is a developmental guy. They're on track for a top-five pick and left tackle probably is the target, although I get the strong sense they'll be looking to deal down and amass more picks as they try to rebuild this roster.

PFW: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell used the word "concern" recently in relation to the Vikings' stadium situation. How would you characterize things as they stand currently?

TP: Well, concern is natural when you consider there are two games left on the Metrodome lease. But the way I've heard it in recent days, the Vikings are more optimistic than ever this thing gets done — most likely on the existing Metrodome site, which would cut down costs and accelerate the timeline versus the other Minneapolis options. Financing remains a question mark, but there is progress on that front, too. Look for the whole thing to come to a head relatively early in the legislative session that begins in January.