In the NFL, now more than ever, a team has to have quality depth in the secondary. The Vikings, like any team, are trying to build toward that. But right now, they are not even close to being there.
Head coach Mike Zimmer knows it, and that’s why he yanked old security blanket Chris Crocker out of semi-retirement for one more season on Monday. Per Mark Craig’s assessment of the safety spot, which is is more urgently in need of help than cornerbacks but perhaps not by much:
Zimmer had eight safeties on the roster before adding Crocker. Other than Harrison Smith, the group has been a disappointment that merited Sunday's transaction.
Injuries to Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Sendejo and Robert Blanton have dogged the position since Zimmer was hired in January. Sanford, the incumbent, missed most of the offseason installment periods, while Sendejo sat out everything from the end of last season until coming off the physically unable to perform list and practicing in full pads Monday. Blanton was given the job to lose at the start of camp and then lost it four practices later when he pulled a hamstring.
Kurt Coleman, Mistral Raymond and rookie Antone Exum have seen time with the first unit in camp, but weren't good enough to keep Zimmer from reaching out to his old, reliable friend.
Read between the lines — or even right on the page — and you could tell Zimmer was getting frustrated with the safety play. Here are a few of his quotes from various transcripts during camp:
July 28 (basically the same question as three days earlier):
Q: Does it make it easier when you have a couple of safeties that have experience at cornerback, like Robert Blanton and Antone Exum?
A: It helps a little bit. They're probably playing safety because they can't play corner.
And then in comes the 34-year-old Crocker. Perhaps he and Smith can be every down guys that stabilize the position and make depth less of an issue. Or maybe the questions about safety will dog the Vikings all season. Time will tell.