Access Vikings

Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


270204211

Coleman happy to be out of Philly and in the mix at Vikings strong safety spot

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 9th at 12:11pm 270599831

The laugh said it all as far as helping outsiders understand how happy Kurt Coleman is to be out of Philadelphia and now in the mix at strong safety for the Vikings.

“Honestly, there are things you can control and things you can’t control in this league,” Coleman said Friday night after starting at strong safety, intercepting a pass and making three tackles in the Vikings’ 10-6 win over the Oakland Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium. “I don’t think I was what [the Eagles] wanted as far as size. And that’s fine.

“They felt I had a ceiling, but it is what it is. When you have a new coaching staff, they come in with a new philosophy and they have an idea of who fits their defense and who doesn’t. That’s where I fell into.”

The 5-11, 200-pound Coleman was a seventh-round pick of the Eagles out of Ohio State in 2010. In 2011, he started 13 games and had four interceptions, including three in one game against Washington’s Rex Grossman. It was the first time since 1966 that an Eagles player had three picks in one game.

In 2012, Coleman started 14 games was second on the team in tackles with 105. But his career arc in Philly peaked when coach Andy Reid was fired and replaced by Chip Kelly. He didn’t start a game and had only 10 tackles in 2013 and basically rocketed out the door as soon as he could in free agency.

“All I really ask for is an opportunity,” Coleman said. “At the end of the day, I think I can live with myself if I say I had the opportunity and didn’t make it. But it’s tough to say when you don’t get that opportunity and you felt like you should have. So I’m happy to be a part of this team. I felt very welcomed as soon as I got here.”

Coleman is listed as the No. 2 free safety behind clear-cut starter Harrison Smith. But Friday night, the ongoing injuries at strong safety pushed the Vikings to start Coleman at that position alongside Smith.

“I guess you could say the safeties are pretty much interchangeable,” Coleman said. “There are certain things a free safety has to do and there are certain things a strong safety has to do. But I’ve been going back and forth. So I’m comfortable at both.

“Pretty much, I was strong safety the whole time in the game [Friday]. But, honestly, sometimes in the two-minute situation, you don’t have time to go back and forth, so you just play left and right safety.”

It also helps that Coleman has had to adjust to new defenses throughout his short career.

“I had four different defensive coordinators in Philly and this is my fifth defensive system,” he said. “So I’ve had a vast knowledge of the game of football from the defensive side of the ball. So it’s helped with the transition here.”

The first-team defense played for two series on Friday. But Coleman stayed in the game and played alongside rookie sixth-round draft pick Antone Exum. That’s when Coleman made his interception, the only takeaway by either team on Friday.

Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw to the flat, but the ball bounced off of the fullback’s shoulder pads and Coleman was in position to make the diving pick.

“It was a bootleg and I was sitting back,” Coleman said. “There was a crosser coming from the opposite side, but I also was reading when the delay to the flat.

“Once I saw them getting ready to throw the ball, I broke on it. And it was a high throw. He’s a young QB. He’ll learn that you got to get the ball low because if he drops it, it goes to the ground. But if he tips it, that’s what happens. I was just in the right position at the right time.”

That appears to also be the case as the fledgling strong safety competition unfolds. Injuries sidelined the top two safeties on the depth chart – Robert Blanton (hamstring) and Jamarca Sanford (back) – on Friday. Inconsistent play ruled out Mistral Raymond from starting, while veteran Chris Crocker sat because he has had only three practices after signing on Monday.

Crocker is 34, an 11-year veteran and knows the defense from having played under Mike Zimmer the past seven seasons. This is the third consecutive year he’s essentially been pulled out of retirement to play for Zimmer. But he needs to get his camp legs under him before he steps into the competition at strong safety.

That could enable the younger Coleman to build upon Friday’s solid start.

“I think I can add something to this team,” Coleman said. “I have been able to be successful when I do play. So I think there is something to be said about what I’m able to do on the field.”

Zimmer sounded happy with Coleman, which is one of the few times the head coach has had reason to smile about the strong safety spot.

“Kurt’s done a good job,” Zimmer said. “He’s a veteran guy. He’s been a good special teams player in the league. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He works real hard, studies real hard, asks good questions. He’s done a very nice job.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which top 2014 restaurant do you most want to try?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT