Shaun Prater: Is he really in the mix at safety?


We know all about Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo and we’re starting to learn about Antone Exum, but could there be a mystery guest also in the mix to start at safety? Is former 5th round pick Shaun Prater really a candidate to line up alongside Harrison Smith when the gun sounds?

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To hear Mike Zimmer tell it, Prater is absolutely in the mix. The head coach told Sid Hartman about his safeties and Prater’s name was right in there (via Minneapolis Star-Tribune):

"“Antone Exum has had a very nice spring. The proof of what he can continue to do is how he handles when we’re going up against someone else and they start moving and seeing different plays than the ones from his offense, and the way they tackle. Our safeties have to tackle. He has a chance. Shaun Prater has looked good, [Robert] Blanton has done a nice job and [Andrew] Sendejo, all of them have.”"

In short, the competition at safety is wide open once again.

The 25-year-old Prater was originally drafted by Mike Zimmer and the Bengals in the 5th round in 2012 out of Iowa, but had his career go off course after a trip to IR.

Prater was waived by Cincinnati in 2013 and picked up by Philadelphia, who wound up waiving him a couple weeks later. Prater was claimed off waivers by the Vikings and then-coach Leslie Frazier in October 2013 and ended up starting 3 games at cornerback, amassing 9 tackles and an interception.

When camp rolled around in 2014, we were slightly surprised to hear that Prater was lining up at safety as well as cornerback. Prater not only made the team but played in 10 games in 2014 as a special teams contributor, notching 2 tackles.

After a full year learning the safety position under guru Mike Zimmer, is Prater now ready to step up and really compete for a starting spot?

Prater will certainly be a man to keep your eye on when training camp begins. If anybody can take a player like Prater, convert him into a safety and make him a starter, it’s Mike Zimmer.

As things stand today, 2014 starter Robert Blanton still has to be considered the front runner at the other safety spot, though Antone Exum has emerged has a hot name after a good showing at OTAs and minicamp.

And of course you can never forget about Andrew Sendejo, the man with the guns…and the clubs.

Going by Mike Zimmer’s statements we must assume Shaun Prater has as good a chance as anyone to be the man once the season rolls around.

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