They say safety should always come first. But judging by Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's comments on Monday, the safety competition may be one of the last position battles decided for the Vikings this preseason.
"We need to keep evaluating them," Zimmer said of his safeties. "Some of them, there wasn't a lot of action in some of the plays (in Saturday's game) for them and that's the one problem with safeties, sometimes you don't get a lot of action. We have got to continue to evaluate them again this week and probably the fourth preseason game, too."
View exclusive images shot by the team photographer from the second preseason game of 2014 as the Vikings played host to the Cardinals.
Harrison Smith is the starting free safety on Zimmer's defensive depth chart, but the strong safety position has no clear starter. Robert Blanton appeared to have a solid hold on the job at one point, but a hamstring injury sidelined him for much of training camp. Since then, several others have rotated in and out in an attempt to nail down a starting job.
"We are going to keep dividing the reps," Zimmer explained, "try and rotate guys in there and figure out what's the best way to go."
Kurt Coleman started the first preseason game and played well, even grabbing an interception. Newly-signed Chris Crocker started the second preseason game. Returning Vikings Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo have run with the first team defense in practice, and rookie Antone Exum has also rotated in with the first team from time-to-time.
The good news is the Vikings have plenty of capable bodies on the roster to fill a starting position and support that position with depth. Which players will fill which roles, though, is a question that remains to be answered. Zimmer doesn't want to force anything, but he also knows the sooner this question is answered, the better.
"As soon as we can," Zimmer said when asked when he'd like this situation figured out. "As soon as I'm sure with what we're doing."