So what is Mike Zimmer looking for at the safety spot next to Harrison Smith? And what does he think of all those safeties vying for that spot?
After Thursday’s practice, Zimmer gave us a quick scouting report, starting with Andrew Sendejo, who has been getting most of the first-team reps.
“Sendejo is a quick reactor. He’s very smart. He’s a good downhill player. A good tackler,” Zimmer, sitting in his golf cart, said. “Playing in the deep part of the field, if he can improve in that spot, that would help.”
So does one of those other guys stand out as a centerfielder type?
“Hmmm… Harrison,” he said, getting laughs. “Not where someone’s just jumping off the page right now. But I’m looking at Griffin there. I do like a lot of things Kearse does. He’s young and learning, but he does some good things. Exum is probably the best athlete of the crew. Anthony Harris is the safest. He’s smart and puts himself in good position most of the time.”
A little later, he praised the second-year safety’s instincts while at the same time suggesting that Harris is not the best athlete of the crew.
“Reacting quick so you can get jumps on the ball,” Zimmer said. “He can’t afford to take a lot of false steps. Otherwise he will get out-athleted.”
As for Exum, the most athletic other than Smith, Zimmer is still looking for more consistent play from Exum before putting full trust in him.
“He’s kind of there and then he’ll have a play that’s like, ‘What the heck are you doing?’” he said. “So he’s got to continue to [avoid] that.”
This competition still seems wide open at this point with Sendejo, who has ceded some first-team snaps to Griffin, as the early favorite. But Zimmer, just like in 2014 and 2015, is in no rush to name Smith’s wingman.
“We’re just going to go through the games [before deciding],” he said.