The Vikings locked down one safety spot by signing Harrison Smith to a big extension. Now they must figure out what to do at the other one.
The competition at that strong safety spot will be wide open heading into training camp. Incumbent Andrew Sendejo and free-agent newcomer Michael Griffin are the frontrunners to start alongside Smith. But young veterans Antone Exum and Anthony Harris could have something to say about that, as could 2016 seventh-round draft pick Jayron Kearse.
“We’re trying to look at all the different guys,” coach Mike Zimmer said after today’s OTA. “Griffin is learning. I like some of the things that Kearse is doing. Exum is athletic. Anthony Harris very seldom makes mistakes. Sendejo is solid, like he usually is. So we’ll just have to keep going.”
Zimmer wants to see the safeties practice in pads during training camp and actually hit somebody in preseason games before choosing his other safety, so it seems unlikely he will name a starter until he has to, in September. Remember, that’s how Zimmer rolled in 2014 and 2015, too.
“The one thing I try not to do, especially in OTAs when we’re not in pads, is I try not to jump to some kind of conclusion about who should be the starter,” Zimmer said today. “We’ll kind of let that play out in camp.”
A reporter asked Zimmer if it was OK for media to jump to conclusions.
“That’s what you guys get paid to do,” Zimmer said with a playful grin.
In the three OTA practices open to media, it has been Sendejo lining up next to Smith on the vast majority of the snaps. Griffin has been with the second-stringers, usually working alongside either Exum or Harris.
Asked today about who amongst his peers has stood out during these voluntary workouts, Smith chose not to single out anyone for praise.
“Everybody is making plays. Everybody is doing a lot of good things,” the $51.25 million man said. “So I think we’re all working together well. We’re learning from each other. We’ve just got to keep building on that.”