Despite their impressive haul during the 2012 NFL Draft and underrated signings during free agency, the Minnesota Vikings still have a number of lingering concerns as the 2012 season inches closer. One of those glaring areas of need is the middle linebacker spot.
Currently penciled in at starting middle linebacker is third-year man Jasper Brinkley, who missed all of the 2011 season on the Injured Reserve list. Considered a huge liability in the passing game, Brinkley is a strong run stopper who’s still raw and unpolished as an NFL-caliber linebacker.
Earlier in the offseason, it seemed like the Vikings were ready to add some insurance behind Brinkley when they brought in free agent inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh for a workout. A six-year NFL veteran who spent the beginning of his career with the Washington Redskins, it seemed likely that the Vikings would bring McIntosh in to provide some depth and competition for Brinkley. It didn’t pan out that way, though, as the former Redskins left without a contract.
It seemed like McIntosh would still be an option for the Vikings throughout the offseason if Brinkley didn’t catch on quickly enough. Well, the “Plan B” file is now headed for the shredder.
On Thursday, June 14, McIntosh was signed by the St. Louis Rams to compete with Jo-Lunn Dunbar and Mario Haggan for snaps at one of their outside linebacker spots.
Considering that McIntosh was one of only a few experienced linebackers left on the open market, his signing could put the Vikings in a tough situation. With only inexperienced players such as Larry Dean and rookie Audie Cole behind Brinkley, a slow start or injury could cause big trouble for the Vikings’ defense.
The Vikings were keeping McIntosh in mind but waited too long and lost their next best option.
E.J. Henderson will be waiting by the phone when Brinkley struggles.