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Receiver-thin Vikings release Walker, could seek help elsewhere

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings apparently are still looking for wide receivers.

The Vikings cut 20 players, including five wide receivers, on Saturday, leaving them with just four players at that position on the active roster. Recently signed Javon Walker and training-camp standout Logan Payne were waived, and Taye Biddle, Freddie Brown and Marquis Hamilton also were let go.

With Sidney Rice already on the physically unable to perform list for at least the first six weeks of the regular season, and Percy Harvin's migraine headaches proving to be an unpredictable problem, quarterback Brett Favre's group of pass-catchers is in flux.

Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis were the only wide receivers on the roster revealed by the team after the NFL's deadline for reducing to 53 players.

As Vikings coach Brad Childress often says, the situation is always fluid, so it's unlikely this roster will look exactly the same when the team kicks off against the Super Bowl champion Saints in New Orleans on Thursday for the season opener.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who tied for the NFL lead in receptions in 2007, became available Saturday when the Seattle Seahawks cut him. The Vikings wooed Houshmandzadeh hard as a free agent in March 2009.

Houshmandzadeh's agent, Kennard McGuire, didn't immediately return e-mail or phone messages Saturday. The Vikings didn't make Childress or any team officials available to reporters Saturday.

The Vikings got a head start on cutdown day by trading quarterback Sage Rosenfels and running back Darius Reynaud to the New York Giants on Friday, making rookie Joe Webb an unpolished third-stringer behind Favre and Tarvaris Jackson and leaving a question about whom the punt returner will be in Reynaud's absence.

Albert Young and rookie Toby Gerhart will back up Adrian Peterson at running back.

Also let go by the Vikings on Saturday: safety Colt Anderson, guard Thomas Austin, guard Adrian Battles, tackle Patrick Brown, tackle Chris Clark, fullback Ryan D'Imperio, running back Ian Johnson, defensive tackle Tremaine Johnson, kicker Rhys Lloyd, tight end Garrett Mills, defensive end Mike Montgomery, tackle Drew Radovich, cornerback Marcus Sherels, linebacker Nate Triplett and cornerback DeAndre Wright. Triplett (fifth round) and D'Imperio (seventh round) were the only draft picks waived.

Teams begin assembling their eight-player practice squads Sunday.

By letting Lloyd go, the Vikings swallowed a $200,000 bonus after signing the kickoff specialist and former University of Minnesota standout this spring. His kickoffs in preseason games were mostly unimpressive, even prompting him to publicly apologize for his performance on his Twitter account, but he could be brought back at some point if he's not picked up by another team.

In addition to wide receiver, the Vikings have depth concerns on the offensive line and at cornerback. They kept five cornerbacks on the roster, but incumbent starter Cedric Griffin (knee) isn't quite ready yet after reconstructive surgery in January, and rookie Chris Cook (knee) was recently injured.

Starting center John Sullivan missed the majority of training camp with a leg injury, and second-year pro Jon Cooper is the only pure backup at that position. Rookie Chris DeGeare and utilityman Ryan Cook are the only other reserves for now.

The Vikings kept four tight ends, though backup Jeff Dugan also can play fullback. They also kept five safeties, seven linebackers and a whopping 10 defensive linemen, after strong camp showings by end Jayme Mitchell and tackle Letroy Guion.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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