Saying they wish to give the safety “one more shot,” the Vikings are mulling whether to start Jamarca Sanford on Friday in place of Mistral Raymond. This is a move that begs to be dissected but let’s not read too much into it. On the basis of everything we’ve seen this preseason, Raymond is still the favorite to start alongside Harrison Smith. The very wording of the Vikings’ statement indicates how they feel about Sanford. You don’t give “one more shot” to a guy you have a ton of confidence in.
Then again, if the Vikings were entirely sure about Raymond and Smith as the starting tandem, why would they need to give Sanford one more shot? Is it possible Alan Williams and Leslie Frazier actually prefer Sanford, for some reason, and are hoping Sanford will show them enough to justify giving him the starting nod?
I’m trying to guess what in Sanford’s game might intrigue the Vikings’ defensive brain trust so much. It can’t be his smarts or coverage ability. Must be his physicality. If Sanford can do one thing well, it’s come up and stick a guy. Mistral Raymond showed better recognition and tackling technique last Friday but still is probably not as sure a hitter as Sanford. I’m guessing Raymond and Smith will still wind up the starters but I’m wondering if Frazier and Williams are entirely satisfied with that combo. Robert Blanton is in the pipeline but he’s still nursing injury and doesn’t look like he’ll be ready to make a significant contribution until well into the season if at all.
The secondary shuffle doesn’t end with Sanford. The Vikings are also working out whom to start in place of Chris Cook who will miss Friday’s game after failing to pass his concussion tests this week. Chris Carr and Josh Robinson are the candidates, and right now they’re leaning toward Carr with Robinson coming in on nickel. Carr is the veteran in that duo but Robinson has looked like the better player this preseason. Maybe the Vikings just want to give Carr one more shot.
One thing we know about Leslie Frazier? He won’t give up on a veteran until he’s totally satisfied that guy can’t play anymore. And even after the guy has proven he’s finished, Frazier may still hang onto him.