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Monday Morning Mailbag: Who Starts Opposite Harrison Smith at Safety?

Posted Jul 21, 2014

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

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Which player do you foresee being the starting third cornerback?
-- Al P.
La Crosse, WI

Right now my guess would be Josh Robinson will open the season as the Vikings third cornerback, starting on the outside along with Xavier Rhodes while Captain Munnerlyn slides inside to play nickel cornerback. But it’s obviously very early to make that call, particularly with a worthy cast of challengers behind Robinson, including Derek Cox, Shaun Prater and Marcus Sherels.

What do you think about Kurt Coleman’s chances to win a starting job opposite Harrison Smith?  From what I’ve seen of him he seems to be a physical player.  But mostly all I hear about is Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo as possible starters.
-- Steve F.
Holland, MI

Of those pushing Jamarca Sanford for a starting job alongside Smith, Blanton saw the most action with the first team and enters camp with the best chance to unseat Sanford. But I wouldn’t rule out Coleman, either. He is a physical player, and he’s also a smart defender who has experience starting in the NFL. This is one of the key training camp battles to watch in Mankato. Sanford enters as the incumbent starter and the Vikings can win with him…there is no problem there. But the Vikings have a group of safeties on the roster behind Sanford who will compete hard to win that job.

With players such as linebacker Pat Angerer and cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Terrell Thomas still free agents, do you think the Vikings would pick any of them up?
-- Michael H.
Florida

One thing to remember about free agency is that it’s a two-way street – in order for a team and free agent to hook up, both sides need to be interested. A team can have all the interest in the world in a certain player, but if that interest isn’t mutual on the part of the player, then it doesn’t matter. With that in mind, it’s very possible those three players have interested teams, but they may be waiting for a team to become more desperate once camps begin so that they can negotiate a better contract. Unexpected poor performance and injuries are two factors that teams sometimes have to deal with, and often times the way they deal with those issues is to sign a free agent.

With training camp and rosters cuts coming, how active are Vikings GM Rick Spielman and his scouts in terms of looking for additional playmakers from the free agents that may become available from other teams?
-- Randy S.
Escanaba, MI

Scanning the waiver wire, re-evaluating free agents on the street and studying other teams’ rosters for players who could become available is a daily practice for NFL scouting staffs. Teams send scouts to preseason games across the League as part of this effort and teams also study players in other leagues, such as the Canadian Football League, to see if there is a chance to upgrade the roster. Building and maintaining a NFL roster is a year-long process.

What are your thoughts on Adrian Peterson’s spot on NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2014? He was listed at No. 4. I personally believe he should have been in Calvin Johnson's spot at No. 2.
-- Gabe G.
Marion, IA

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, so anyone playing a non-quarterback position who is voted in the top 10 has really accomplished something and is clearly respected by their peers (the list is created based on votes from NFL players). The problem with debating or disagreeing with these kinds of lists is that inevitably you come off as disparaging another player more than you come off as crediting your own player. Debating who belongs at No. 2 and who belongs at No. 4 between Johnson and Peterson is really splitting hairs – both are great players and you can make a strong argument for both being No. 2. I would put Peterson there, myself, because he touches the ball more frequently and has a greater impact on his team’s performance week-in, week-out.

Joe Banyard had a strong preseason last year. Nevertheless, many see rookie Jerick McKinnon as the No.2 back while Banyard flies under the radar. Will Banyard be available for training camp and what are his chances of becoming the No. 2 back?
-- James W.
Maple Grove, MN

Yes, my expectation is that Banyard will be good to go for training camp beginning this week and he will be in the mix to win the No. 2 running back job along with Matt Asiata and Dominique Williams. The reason I don’t put McKinnon in that group isn’t because I don’t think he can compete for the No. 2 job, it’s because I feel McKinnon’s skill set is such that he’ll have his own role in offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense. McKinnon’s versatility – I feel he can be effective as a receiver and runner out of the backfield – should make him a regular contributor, whereas the No. 2 running back will only contribute when Peterson is unavailable or is on the sidelines resting.