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Harrison Smith and…?

After finding out the Vikings signed an aging veteran safety familiar with coach Zimmer’s defense (Crocker… formerly with Bengals), I thought about what it may or may not mean.  It could easily mean that coach Zimmer simply doesn’t trust any of the safeties that can line up next to Harrison Smith.  It could mean that he wanted to add a player he trusted that could push the competition for the open safety position.  Jamarca Sanford has held down that safety position over the past couple of seasons despite losing a preseason competition to Mistral Raymond at one point (Raymond never captured the starting spot once healthy).  Sanford lacks height, speed, coverage ability and the ability to catch a football but he is gritty, has leadership ability and can tackle well.  I’d prefer he be a special teams all star and a backup on the 53 man roster.  Robert Blanton has been getting a great opportunity to show his versatility during training camp could easily be the week 1 starter alongside his college teammate.  I know he got some playing time last year and was praised because he didn’t screw up.  I am cautious to assume he is a legit NFL safety.  Andrew Sandejo is another guy who, like Blanton, got some playing time over the past couple of seasons and was praised for not screwing up.  Sandejo seems to be very good on special teams.  I’m not sold on him being a legit starting NFL safety but I think he could land a spot with Sanford as a backup.  Kurt Coleman (formerly with Eagles) is a veteran safety that is battling for a spot on the roster.  I really don’t know anything about him and if he is equal to Sandejo, Blanton and Sanford he’s probably not going to make the team (Spielman loves “his” guys).  The 6th round rookie, Anton Exum is the player that I really hope will stand out this preseason.  He has size, coverage skills, speed and versatility.  He was supposedly a “value” pick in the 6th round because had it not been for an injury in college he could have gone as early as day two of the draft.  If he is healthy I think he will likely make the team.  I have a gut feeling that the reason the Vikings brought in Crocker was to send a message to the team and to raise the urgency for the other guys fighting for this spot.  At this point I will guess that the starters will be Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton.  The backups will be Sandejo (or Coleman), Sanford and Exum.  Sanford wasn’t terrible last year but I’m not sure he’s stylistically the type of safety for Zimmer’s defense and he may end up off of the roster as a result.  I am holding out hope that Exum can emerge as a playmaker because I think the other guys are “just guys.”

Skol Vikings!

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