The Vikings' defense wasn’t spectacular in 2011, but it wasn’t as awful as some have made it out to be.
If there is one place where they struggle, though, it has been the secondary.
He’s just so rarely healthy.
This year he needs to find a way stay healthy if the Vikings are going to shut down the dynamic offenses they face.
Frazier had this to say about Winfield, whose impact goes beyond the plays he is in moment to moment:
We were talking about that as a staff last night—he really seems to be into this training camp more than any other. You see him out there taking one-on-ones and all of the reps. In years past, he always would be kind of getting himself ready for the season in a different way. He is taking all of the reps and doing everything he can to be ready. We will have to monitor that a little bit—he is not 22 years of age anymore—but he is definitely invigorated in a lot of ways, which is good for our young players in our secondary to see the way he works and how he approaches things. It’s great for them.
As of now, it looks like he is healthy and will lock down one of the cornerback spots. It also looks like his influence is being felt beyond the field.
Third-rounder Josh Robinson is battling a hamstring injury, which has sidelined him way too much so far.
He returns to practice on Wednesday with a few individual drills but no contact.
Perhaps expecting a lot from a rookie third-round corner is…well, a lot to expect. But if he’s not on the field, he won’t have much of a role for some time.
On the other hand, coming back too soon will just make things worse.
Fellow rookie Harrison Smith is battling veterans Mistral Raymond (of two years) and Jamarca Sanford for a spot. Sanford has been fighting hard to hold on and has really been pouring out the effort, according to Frazier.
He is one of those guys who plays at a high level all the time. You can always hear him chirping and talking, and the players kind of feed off of that. We all like that energy that he brings.
His special teams acumen doesn’t hurt his chances.
This battle is still wide open and will probably come down to preseason games before we are able to parse out who the starters will be and how much of a roll Smith will have this year.
****Leslie Frazier quotes obtained from Vikings P/R department in transcript of 8/1 press conference.