Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6 other subscribers

MN Vikings Tweets

Bleacher Report – Vikings

Injuries gave Vikings a live look at two young defensive backs, Waynes and Harris

By Derek Wetmore

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – The Vikings showed a little heart last week in the desert, proving they could hang with the high-flying Cardinals despite missing their best player at each of the three levels of the defense. The Vikings lost the game, but they owe at least part of their competitiveness to two young defensive backs, who turned in representative performances in Arizona.

Injuries have depleted the Vikings’ depth at safety, which gave undrafted signee Anthony Harris a chance to start, and it also moved Terence Newman from cornerback to safety, opening up a spot for rookie Trae Waynes.

The Vikings held the Cardinals to just 23 points despite a severely shorthanded defense. And while the good-not-great performance of each of those rookies in the secondary was good for the team on Thursday, it was also good for the individuals from a big-picture perspective.

With the Vikings looking for future contributors at several positions, last week’s game against the Cardinals could serve as an important data point for Harris and for Waynes, each of whom made his first NFL start.

Since Mike Zimmer took over the Vikings, they’ve overhauled the defense by changing schemes, showing new ways to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and perhaps most notably, reconfiguring the personnel. But that rebuild isn’t complete, and the team’s roster in, say, two years might look a bit different than it does now. That’s the nature of the NFL.

Newman, for example, likely isn’t the extended future for the Vikings at left cornerback. He’s 37 years old in a league that continually pumps in a new crop of defensive backs each summer.

Considering how much the Vikings invested in Waynes by drafting him 11th overall in the NFL draft over the summer, they’ve got to be hoping he’s their future at the position. Expectations ought to be high.

Waynes broke up a pass and had five tackles in the first start of his budding NFL career.

“I thought he competed well last night,” Zimmer said Friday. “The play that he broke up at the end of the ballgame was on that they completed on him earlier in the game and that was a big play for him to go in there because Larry Fitzgerald is a great catch guy and for him to get that ball out was huge, so he did some good things.”

But Zimmer also noted that Waynes was one of a group of players that messed up a coverage that led to a positive play for the Cardinals on a ball caught near the sideline. It remains to be seen when Waynes will get an extended look as a starting corner.

Harris, meanwhile, played every snap on defense and might have put in a good word for himself as the Vikings continue to search for a safety to start opposite star Harrison Smith.

The Vikings safety group currently includes Andrew Sendejo, Robert Blanton and Antone Exum, but considering injuries and their level of play when healthy, it’d be hard to argue that any one of them has distinguished himself as the no-doubt-about-it future at safety for the Vikings.

Harris, who came out of Virginia and signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent, could throw his name into the mix if he performs well. On Thursday, he broke up a pass and tied for the team lead with eight combined tackles.

Many believe Harris went undrafted because of an injury, and considering that he’d only recently been elevated from the practice squad to the active roster, he seemed to acquit himself well in his first start. One of his highlights came when he nearly picked off an errant throw from Carson Palmer, although he also got run over by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald during Michael Floyd’s touchdown.

“I think he did good for the most part. First time out, the game didn’t seem too big for him,” Zimmer said. “He made some plays. … He made some good tackles in the ballgame. He had some mistakes like everybody does, but I think he showed some good things.”

“The good thing for him is he’s a very smart kid. He understands concepts and understands things,” Zimmer said. “He’s been sitting in meetings, so it’s not like we got him off of the street.

“He wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he did some natural things out there, considering he didn’t get a lot of time in the preseason because of an injury as well. It was good to see,” Zimmer said.

The post Injuries gave Vikings a live look at two young defensive backs, Waynes and Harris appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>