MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings have kept undrafted rookie Taylor Heinicke as their third quarterback and underdog cornerback Marcus Sherels for the fifth straight season.
The NFL's roster reduction deadline for the regular season was Saturday, when the Vikings acquired offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles in a trade with San Diego and released 22 players to reach the 53-player limit.
With Teddy Bridgewater entrenched as the starter and veteran Shaun Hill on board this year as the backup, the Vikings weren't a lock to keep a third quarterback. Heinicke, after a record-setting career at Old Dominion, had a strong preseason and wasn't worth risking on waivers.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Sherels was undrafted out of Minnesota in 2010. His career average of 10.5 yards per punt return is the best in Vikings history.
Sherels faced competition this year from rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who averaged 21.7 yards on 10 punt returns in five exhibition games. But with Jabari Price suspended for the first two games of the season, Sherels was deemed worth a spot for depth at cornerback behind Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn and Trae Waynes.
Sherels, who was on the practice squad as a rookie and has been on the active roster since the final game that season, has started seven games in the secondary over the last four years as an injury fill-in. Sherels was sixth in the league with an average of 11.0 yards per punt return last year and second in 2013 at 15.2.
With top interior backup Joe Berger filling in at center the last few weeks for stalwart John Sullivan, who's been bothered by a back injury, the Vikings were concerned about their depth at guard. They cut David Yankey, their fifth-round draft pick in 2014 out of Stanford, who has not yet played an NFL snap. Sirles was undrafted last year out of Nebraska.
Also let go Saturday by the Vikings: offensive tackle Babatunde Aiyegbusi, defensive tackle Chigbo Anunoby, defensive end B.J. DuBose, guard Isame Faciane, center Tom Farniok, wide receiver Donte Foster, wide receiver Isaac Fruechte, safety Anthony Harris, running back DuJuan Harris, defensive tackle Greg Hickman, defensive end Leon Mackey, linebacker Michael Mauti, linebacker Brian Peters, cornerback Shaun Prater, fullback Blake Renaud, cornerback Josh Thomas, offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson, center Bob Vardaro, linebacker Brandon Watts, wide receiver Ryan Whalen, running back Dominique Williams.
Price was placed on the reserved/suspended list. Cornerback Josh Robinson was previously placed on the physically unable to perform list.
The moves meant the Vikings kept eight of their 10 draft picks. DuBose was a sixth-rounder from Louisville, and Thompson was a sixth-rounder from Oklahoma.
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