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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings continue to lean on age-defying Terence Newman

By Andrew Krammer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Terence Newman cracked a smile and recalled a football adage that may apply to the Vikings’ young secondary heading into this week.

When inexperienced players mess up in practice, sometimes that cultivates new ideas and forms defenses, Newman said.

Well, the Vikings’ patchwork secondary didn’t have much time together in practice before Thursday night’s loss in Arizona saw rookie cornerback Trae Waynes and undrafted safety Anthony Harris make their first career starts, with Newman shifting to safety for an injury-depleted defense.

“It was a good thing we didn’t screw up,” Newman said. “Although we do have a new blitz in [this week]. It may have happened.”

Just as they’ve done all season, the Vikings turned to Newman again last week as he’s started all 13 games for the Vikings as the NFL’s oldest cornerback. Newman was the fifth-overall pick in 2003, selected by the Dallas Cowboys and then-defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

More than 12 years later, Newman made his first start at safety on Thursday in Arizona with the Vikings down to just one healthy player at the position from the opening-day roster in Robert Blanton.

Without Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo or Antone Exum Jr., Newman started alongside undrafted safety Anthony Harris, and the two were part of a Vikings’ defensive effort that limited the Cardinals, the league’s top scoring offense, to their second-lowest point total of the last two months. Newman’s switch to safety meant rookie Trae Waynes received his first career start at cornerback.

They weren’t drawing up plays in the dirt, but there was a little more of a ‘wing it’ element than normal, Newman said.

“Just communicating with Anthony, talking to each other to make sure, ‘Hey if one person is supposed to be up, the other person is supposed to be back,’” Newman said. “We get the call, there are some blitzes where I’ll say, ‘You take it.’ He was like, ‘Hey you go ahead and take it.’ We just communicated and luckily didn’t screw up too bad.

“Like sandlot a little bit.”

Injuries have contributed to a recent blemish on the Vikings’ surprise season, as they’ve lost three of the last four games — the last two losses coming without three key players on defense in Smith, nose tackle Linval Joseph and linebacker Anthony Barr. Zimmer’s group still ranks ninth in points allowed (19.6 per game), though they’ve slipped a bit in the two losses to Green Bay and Seattle. Both offenses put up at least 30 points against the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium.

Save for a 50-yard pass interference penalty he drew against the Packers, Newman’s run on a one-year, $2.25 million deal in Minnesota has been exceptional for a Vikings defense that has been one of the more stingy groups against the pass this season. With his reliable presence, the Vikings have been able to slowly bring along first-round pick Trae Waynes, who has exhibited growing pains through flags and assignments in his limited rookie snaps.

Newman’s well-documented elixir is red wine, and fellow defensive back Captain Munnerlyn stands by it based solely on what he’s seen from his age-defying teammate.

“I don’t know what you guys do,” Munnerlyn told a group of local reporters. “But drink some red wine and you can do it a little bit better.”

The post Vikings continue to lean on age-defying Terence Newman appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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