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NFL Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings: Five Players With the Most to Lose During Training Camp

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Minnesota Vikings Training Camp: 5 Players With the Most to Lose

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings were not expected to be a playoff contender in 2012, but they came out of nowhere to win 10 games before bowing out of the postseason with a loss in the Wild Card round to the Green Bay Packers. General manager Rick Spielman’s plan to make the roster younger since taking his official role seems to be working.

Despite last season’s success, the Vikings did not rest on their laurels during the offseason. After trading wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks in March, Greg Jennings was brought aboard in free agency to take over as the top target for quarterback Christian Ponder. The arm injury that kept Ponder out of the team’s playoff loss also exposed the need for a more proven backup quarterback, and Matt Cassel was signed to address that.

The trade with the Seahawks gave Minnesota a second first-round pick in April’s draft, and then a trade with the New England Patriots gave them a trio of first-round picks. All three-defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson-are expected to contribute immediately.

The Vikings will have some competition for starting jobs and roles during training camp, and it will be interesting to see how linebacker Desmond Bishop fits in after being signed in June, but for the most part the starters on both sides of the ball are firmly in place.

With offseason moves likely done, barring significant injuries between now and Week 1, here are five Vikings I think have the most to lose during training camp.

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5. CB Josh Robinson

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Robinson is expected to take over for the departed Antoine Winfield as Minnesota’s primary slot corner, and there are real questions about his ability to move seamlessly into the role. Speed is Robinson’s game (4.33 40-yard dash time at the 2012 NFL Combine), but he will have to prove he can play with discipline and increased physicality to succeed at the level Winfield did.

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4. OG Brandon Fusco

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Fusco had an inconsistent season in 2012, so he has to show he is worthy of having the Vikings’ starting right guard job to himself during training camp. If he’s not up to the task, rookies Jeff Baca and Travis Bond could enter the mix fairly quickly.

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3. S Jamarca Sanford

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Sanford is coming off the best season of his career in 2012, and he has to be considered the favorite to be the Viking’s starting strong safety. But Mistral Raymond won the job during last year’s training camp, and if not for his early season injury Sanford may have remained a relative non-factor. If he hits the ground running during training camp this year, Sanford could easily push Raymond into special teams duty exclusively.

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2. WR Jerome Simpson

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Simpson had a disappointing season in 2012, at least partially due to a lingering back issue, and his role is sure to change this year. Patterson will compete with him for a starting spot, and second-year man Jarius Wright should get every chance to usurp him in the pecking order of Minnesota’s passing game. Simpson needs to show he is the vertical threat he was advertised to be now that he is healthy, otherwise the Vikings may have little use for him.

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1. DT Letroy Guion

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Guion started 15 games at nose tackle for the Vikings last season, but Fred Evans is expected to get an equal chance to win the starting job during training camp. Floyd may also see some time at the nose during the preseason, which could further push Guion to the background of Minnesota’s defensive tackle rotation if he does not win the starting job.