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Ian Johnson has work cut out to land Vikings' No. 3 running back spot

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There's no place like 2006. There's no place like 2006. (via <a href="http://media.idahostatesman.com/smedia/2009/07/26/00/588-6280_MiniCamp_1266280_MiniCamp_123_IJ42.standalone.prod_affiliate.36.JPG">media.idahostatesman.com</a>)
There's no place like 2006. There's no place like 2006. (via media.idahostatesman.com)

With the city of Boise behind him, wife Chrissy supporting him, and Chris Myers watching from the bushes at least 50 feet away as mandated by a restraining order, Ian Johnson is doing everything he can to nail down a roster spot with the Minnesota Vikings. Everything, that is, short of being Albert Young.

Albert Young has a pretty good grip on the third spot and Ian Johnson is running fourth.

Johnson, Young, and the Vikings take on Indianapolis on Friday night at 5:30MT in the team's first preseason game.

The Minnesota running back competition is far from over, and Johnson still has a lot of things going in his favor. He is super fast. NFL.com has a slight crush on him. Albert Young never won a WAC championship.

But Young seems to have one thing going for him that Johnson doesn't: a personal relationship with Viking head coach Brad Childress.

Johnson has a pretty big hill to climb, since Childress has spoken highly of Young as being a good system player.

Young doesn't possess great breakaway speed, but he just seems to do a lot of things fairly well, and Brad Childress called this year’s top three running backs the deepest he's had since taking over in 2006.

The preseason game on Thursday might be Johnson's best chance of standing out in what has quickly become a packed position in Vikings training camp.

For awhile, Young and Johnson were the two clear candidates to back up All-World Adrian Peterson and All-Backup Chester Taylor. Now, it is a four-man competition with UCLA's Kahlil Bell and Florida State's Antone Smith in the mix. And considering that rookie WR Percy Harvin might get upwards of five carries a game out of special packages, some Viking experts wonder if the team will even bother holding onto a third running back once the regular season hits.

At the very least, Johnson can hope for a role on special teams. At the very best, he can keep pushing Albert Young for the No. 3 spot. And if nothing else, Vinny Perretta can empathize with him.

Vinny Perretta will have to make up ground in the preseason to continue earning a living here in a month.

I'll be tuning in on Friday to find out.

Other Bronco rookies:

Julian Hawkins, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Hawkins appears to be fighting with six other receivers for one spot on the Cowboys' roster. This will help:

Hawkins made an array of impressive grabs, including a leaping, twisting one-handed grab on a ball that was thrown behind him and a diving snag of a low fastball from Jon Kitna that Hawkins pulled in between three defenders

The Cowboys open preseason on Thursday night at 8:00pm in Oakland.