The Minnesota Vikings are set at their starting safeties, but all of their backups will have to fight hard to make the team.
The Minnesota Vikings will look to solve their pass defense woes from last season. Their play at safety was responsible for their porous defense along with their cornerbacks.
Free safety Harrison Smith returning to rookie form would help the unit right off the bat. He battled injuries last season and only made seven starts, but he showed great promise in 2012.
The former first-round pick had three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Smith also notched 104 tackles and a sack.
Jamarca Sanford is expected to start at strong safety again. While the incumbent starter showed value on special teams, he was not a dependable tackler and needs to improve on coverage.
Robert Blanton and Mistral Raymond offer the most experience in the Vikings defense out of the reserve safeties. Raymond has made a minimal impact and will not make the team if he doesn’t show improvement.
Blanton offers starting experience, and so does free-agent signing Kurt Coleman. However, Coleman struggled mightily with the Philadelphia Eagles. Head coach Mike Zimmer will look to bring out more of Coleman’s abilities.
Special teams contributor Andrew Sendejo is also competing for a roster spot, but he will be on the bubble after proving to be a poor tackler and offering little to nothing in coverage. Antone Exum will push players such as Sendejo and Raymond for a roster spot.
The Vikings are expected to carry five safeties on their roster. Smith and Sanford are the only locks to make the team with Blanton leaning toward secure. Coleman will likely make it as well since he has more NFL experience than Raymond and Sendejo. Exum may make the team for his upside after being drafted in the sixth round.
Who makes it out of training camp alive is a mystery for now though as it is with the Vikings’ cornerbacks.