By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
It was two teams primarily made up of backups and practice squad players taking the field Thursday night in Tennessee, but the effort couldn’t have been any higher. As both teams prepare to trim their roster by 22 players this Saturday, the athletes on the field are trying their hardest to “splash” and be remembered when cut day comes.
One player that stuck out above the rest for the Minnesota Vikings was fourth string running back Joe Banyard.
Having spent time on the Vikings practice squad in 2013, Banyard returned in 2014 with a year of experience under his belt and made the most of that advantage Thursday night.
After Jerick McKinnon was on the field for the first drive and a half, Banyard took over in the backfield and proceeded to take over the Titans defense at the same time.
Showcasing a high level of elusiveness, shiftiness and speed, Banyard ran up and down the field for the second quarter on his qay to 111 yards on 18 carries, an average of 6.2 yards per carry.
Unfortunately for Joe, this stellar performance may have been too little too late.
Breaking down the Vikings backfield it’s tough to find room for a guy like Banyard to fit in. Adrian Peterson and Matt Asiata are both locks. Asiata sat out the entire game on Thursday and Peterson sat out the whole preseason. Then you have a third round draft pick in Jerick McKinnon who has looked pretty good himself and is too valuable as a third rounder to cut in year number one.
Sprinkle in a fullback between Jerome Felton or Zach Line and you’ve got four backs on the team’s final 53. While Banyard flashed on offense against the Titans, he holds very little value in the special teams facet of the game making his hybrid value very low, a grading that doesn’t help him during final cuts.
But could the Vikings slip Joe through waivers and onto the newly expanded 10-man practice squad? It’s unlikely after a performance like tonights. Guys like Banyard slip through the cracks after a preseason like last year, slipping through two years in a row is unlikely.
Odds are Banyard will land somewhere if the Vikings leave him off of their final 53-man roster. Unfortunately, it looks like it might have been too late in the race for the Vikings to pull the trigger.