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There has been a consistent theme throughout the past two decades for the Vikings:
The secondary is the weakest link on the team. By far.
There is hope Cedric Griffin will be ready for Week 1, but he is still coming off ACL surgery. Griffin led the team in interceptions last season with four, had 78 tackles, and is the only experienced Vikings corner in the prime of his career. After Griffin, the cornerbacks are either old or raw.
However, Antoine Winfield is still the best corner on the team, and still one of the best tacklers in all of football. His ability to cut off the run outside has been and still is vital to the Vikings rush defense. But his age is catching up to him in pass coverage, leaving him better suited to cover the slot position these days.
Lito Sheppard's age has caught up to him with pass coverage, and he isn't nearly the run-stopper Winfield is. If hidden and used sparingly, he'll be alright, but the AFC Championship game turned when he was forced to play every down because of an injury to a starter. Something to think about.
Chris Cook played like a younger, bigger Antoine Winfield in preseason, cutting the running back off at the knees a yard off the line and playing well in coverage. An injury might keep him out of the season opener, and he will assuredly have his rookie moments, but Cook appears to be a good building block for the future of the secondary and a potential X-factor this season.
Second-year corner Asher Allen is a fast, aggressive player who doesn't really know what he's doing yet. Fans shouldn't expect much from him and anything more is a bonus.
The safety position is a blight on the Vikings roster.
Madieu Williams has been one of the bigger free agent busts in recent team history, Tyrell Johnson has been one of the bigger draft busts in recent team history, and they're the presumed starters. Jamarca Sanford might end up starting and he is a heavy hitter with heavy, lead feet. Husain Abdullah and Eric Frampton are simply special teams players.
Maybe they should have re-signed Darren Sharper, huh? Hindsight and all, right?
Minnesota has the potential to have an above-average secondary, but they need something unexpected to happen to get there. A Lito Sheppard renaissance? Chris Cook as Defensive Rookie of the Year? Tyrell Johnson becoming the player the Vikings thought he'd be?
Otherwise, it will continue to be the weakest unit on the team.