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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

Not-so-big Week 2 extends strong safety competition at least another week

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 18th at 2:26pm 271720451

Last week, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he was hoping Week 2 of the preseason would be a “big” week for the four strong safeties he said he wanted to take a look at.

Based on one of Zimmer’s press conference answers earlier today, it sounds like it wasn’t a big week for Chris Crocker, Kurt Coleman, Andrew Sendejo and Jamarca Sanford.

Reminded that he mentioned those four specifically heading into the Cardinals game, Zimmer was asked his thoughts after the 30-28 win on Saturday.

“There was Crocker, when he was in there, he didn’t get a lot of action,” Zimmer said. “Coleman did some good things, he missed a tackle. Sendejo did some good things when he was down close to the line of scrimmage.

“But for me evaluating the safety is not when they are down by the line of scrimmage. It’s when they are back and when they have to cover guys and when they have to get in there and we didn’t get in as many of those situations the other night as I had hoped, whether it was because of what they were doing or what they were calling.”

Zimmer was interrupted with another question before he got to Sanford.

Later, Zimmer was asked what he looks for in a strong safety.

“About the same as the free safety,” he said. “I mean, we try to be interchangeable the best we can. Our guys have to be up in run support, they have to be back in coverage, they have to be able to get on some slot receivers, they have to be able to blitz.

“We aren’t looking for one-dimensional guys. We’re not looking for the old in-the-box safeties. Then they have to have intelligence. Really, we want all of our guys back there to be basically the same guys.”

Robert Blanton, who was handed the job to lose at the start of camp, returns to practice today for the first time since pulling a hamstring during the fourth practice. He’ll join the others at a position that’s still open.

If one had to venture an educated guess, Crocker would be the frontrunner because he’s been with Zimmer going on eight seasons and has essentially come out of retirement three straight years to play for him.

Of course, Zimmer first has to determine how much is left in Crocker’s 34-year-old legs.

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