After spending time with three different NFL teams a year ago, former Sweetwater High School football star Joseph Banyard is hoping to find a home this season with the Minnesota Vikings.
Banyard is scheduled to report to the Vikings’ training camp today, which will be at Minnesota State University in Mankato, and begins practicing Friday. He hopes to still be around after the Vikings’ current 90-man roster is cut to the 53-player limit for the team’s season opener on Sept. 8.
A year ago, the 24-year-old Banyard — a running back who also had a standout college career at Texas-El Paso (UTEP) — first signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent and attended their minicamp this past May.
After being waived by the Jaguars, he got a second chance in June later when he signed a multi-year deal with the New Orleans Saints after an impressive perfor-mance at their minicamp.
Banyard saw extensive action for most of the preseason with the Saints and averaged close to four yards a carry, but an injury before the season opener cost him a chance to play. But then he signed with Minnesota in late November and spent the rest of the year on the Vikings’ practice squad.
Banyard will face difficult competition in his attempt to get a permanent spot on the Vikings’ roster. Eight running backs are expected in camp, led by perennial all-pro Adrian Peterson, who was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2012.
Toby Gerhart, Matt Asia-ta, Jerodis Williams, Brad-ley Randle, Jerome Felton and Zach Line are the other running backs.
The first preseason game is Aug. 9 when the Vikings play host to the Houston Texans. Other preseason games scheduled Aug. 16 at the Buffalo Bills, Aug. 25 at the San Francisco 49ers and Aug. 29 when the Vikings host the Tennessee Titans.
If Banyard makes the cut, he won’t return to Texas until Nov. 3 when the Viki-ngs play the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington.
The Vikings play NFC division rivals Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears on the road in their first two games before hosting the Cleveland Browns in their home opener on Sept. 22.