Fringe finale: Five wild rides

Steve Wyche takes a look back at the five wild rides we witnessed this summer as Ian Johnson, Lance Long, David Tyree, Boomer Grigsby, and Coy Wire fought for their NFL lives.

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Johnson added to Vikes practice squad

Rookie running back Ian Johnson was signed to the Vikings’ eight-man practice squad a day after being released from the team. The undrafted tailback from Boise State was the fourth rusher on a team that kept three — Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor and Albert Young.

As a member of the practice squad, another team could make a claim on Johnson. The Vikings would have the right to retain him but they would have to place him on their active roster.

Johnson had hoped another team would claim him off waivers but that did not happen.

“I’m going to keep working,” Johnson said in a text message Sunday.

— Steve Wyche


Johnson: ‘Another hurdle to get past’

Ian Johnson, who was cut by the Vikings today, reflects on his time with Minnesota and what he’s going to do next to make his NFL dreams come true.


Johnson’s bid to make Vikes’ roster ends

Former Boise State star Ian Johnson said his bid to latch on as a running back with the Vikings has failed.

The undrafted free agent was cut today by the back-stacked team that features Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Johnson, the only rookie featured in’s On The Fringe Series, couldn’t unseat Albert Young as the No. 3 tailback in Minnesota.

Johnson had a solid preseason, gaining 117 yards on 33 carries (with two touchdowns) and 59 yards on six receptions. However, his lack of playing time on special teams –- which is vital to all fringe players –- hurt.

Johnson must go through waivers, where another team could sign him. Still, it’s more likely that he will be re-signed to Minnesota’s practice squad, which the team told him was its intent.

Steve Wyche

Running back Ian Johnson was cut by the Vikings.  He will most likely be signed to their practice squad. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Rookie RB Ian Johnson was cut by the Vikings, but he most likely will be signed to their practice squad. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)


Johnson ends preseason in style

With one last chance to convince Vikings coaches that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster, rookie RB Ian Johnson was at his best.

Johnson’s stats against the Cowboys were outstanding — 61 rushing yards and two touchdowns to go along with 26 receiving yards — but it was the matter in which he compiled them that was even more noticeable.

Despite being taken to the ground awkwardly on a second-quarter tackle and seemingly rolling his ankle, Johnson was unfazed, unhurt and continued to play with no hesitation. He showed prescient vision on many of his runs and bulldozed defenders into the end zone on his two touchdowns. He also demonstrated soft hands, catching all three passes thrown his way.

Whether or not it was enough to earn Johnson that coveted roster spot remains to be seen, but he definitely did all he could to make it hard on the Vikings to let him go.

Even if Johnson is cut Saturday (Albert Lee, with whom he is competing, also played well, rushing for 55 yards), he most likely will be brought back to the Vikings as a practice-squad player.

Of course, with the way Johnson closed the preseason, another team might choose to sign him to its active roster before Minnesota has a chance to put him on the practice squad.


Poll: Who will remain with team?


Johnson ready to make final push

Heading into Friday’s preseason finale against the Cowboys, which will be shown live on NFL Network (8 p.m. ET), Vikings RB Ian Johnson provided a diary about this being his possible make-or-break game, with the final 53-man roster cuts coming Saturday.

Going into the big game this Friday, I can be nothing but thankful. Thankful to a lot of people: the fans at Boise State, the fans I’ve met out here in Minnesota, the fans I haven’t met, my coaches, fellow players, my family, my wife, and, of course, and NFL Network for doing this with me.

I look back on this whole process and smile. I’ve had a great chance to put who I really am on tape. I really have a lot of good stuff on tape, and no matter what, that’s all that matters. What I put on tape is all I can control. Like all the older guys say here, who you are is what you put on tape, and what’s on tape is your audition not only for your own team but the rest of the teams in the NFL as well.

Friday night, I plan on adding one more piece to my resume. I’m going to go out there to play, to have fun and to take home a position on a team. I don’t control what team that is, but I know I have what it takes to play at this level. And I know that whatever role a head coach gives me, I will more than live up to it.


Final countdown to 53 is on

Ian Johnson, Lance Long, Coy Wire and David Tyree are all on the bubble to make the final 53 on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Ian Johnson, Lance Long, Coy Wire and David Tyree are all on the bubble to make the final 53-man rosters. (Associated Press)

With the cut-down deadline just two days away, the final four of the “On The Fringe” players get one last chance to make an impression with their teams.

Unfortunately, one of those four — David Tyreewill sit out the Giants’ preseason finale against the Patriots.

As for the Cardinals’ Lance Long, the Falcons’ Coy Wire and the Vikings’ Ian Johnson, the final countdown to 53 is on.

Wire takes to the field at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday night as the Falcons take on the Ravens at the Georgia Dome. NFL Network will re-air the game on Friday at 10 a.m. ET.

Long continues his quest to squeeze into the Cardinals’ crowded receiving corps when his team visits Invesco Field at Mile High to take on the Broncos. NFL Network will re-air the game on Friday at 1 a.m. ET.

Johnson’s final opportunity to win the hearts and minds of his coaches will take place on Friday night at the H.H.H. Metrodome, when the Vikings take on the Cowboys. The game will be broadcast live on NFL Network, with kickoff set for 8 p.m. ET.

You can also keep track of the “On The Fringe” players’ fates on NFL Network, which will air a 90-minute roster cuts special starting at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.


Vikes’ Johnson sees limited action

After averaging 3.9 yards per carry on 15 attempts in his first two preseason games, Vikings RB Ian Johnson saw limited action against the Texans on Monday night.

The rookie had just one rush for minus-3 yards. He didn’t get a chance to carry the ball until the fourth quarter. His touches have decreased each week, which may not be a good sign for the undrafted free agent. Fellow RB Albert Young, who is competing for a roster spot with Johnson, had two carries for 11 yards and caught a 7-yard pass.


Expect Long look at Cardinals WR

Lance Long is expected to get plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents when the Arizona Cardinals host the Green Bay Packers at University of Phoenix Stadium on Friday night.

Game time is 10 p.m. ET, but a high-definition replay of the game can be seen on NFL Network on Saturday at 1 a.m. ET, Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, Wednesday at 12 a.m. ET and again on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

Long leads the Cardinals this preseason in receptions (8) and yards receiving (89).

Here is a look at the other On The Fringe players in action during this weekend’s preseason games …

Coy Wire will continue to make his case to make the Atlanta Falcons’ final roster when the San Diego Chargers visit the Georgia Dome on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A high-definition replay of the game can be seen on NFL Network on Monday at 7 a.m. ET.

The Giants take on the team they share a stadium with, the Jets, on Saturday. However, David Tyree is not expected to play due to a hamstring injury. Tyree has yet to register a reception this preseason, with his last catch coming on that unforgettable play in Super Bowl XLII.

Ian Johnson‘s quest to make the Minnesota Vikings’ final roster hits prime-time TV, when his team takes on the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on Monday at 8 p.m. ET. A replay of the game can be seen on NFL Network on Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. Johnson has gotten a good look through two preseason games, rushing 15 times for 59 yards, while catching three passes for 33 yards.

Vikings RB Ian Johnson will play against the Houston Texans on Monday night.  (Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Vikings RB Ian Johnson will play against the Houston Texans on Monday night. (Michael Conroy / Associated Press)