Minnesota Vikings: Safety competition heating up in Mankato


The temperatures are heating up at Minnesota Vikings training camp in Mankato, and so too is the safety competition.

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2014 starter Robert Blanton was still the #1 guy opposite Harrison Smith when the Vikings took the field Sunday night for their preseason opener, and Blanton was running with the ones when the Vikes hit the practice field Thursday morning.

But Blanton quickly gave Mike Zimmer an excuse to yank him and Zimmer didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Antone Exum was the next guy in after Blanton’s glaring no-no.

Blanton gets a lot of love from Pro Football Focus but the Vikings are clearly looking for someone who can do a better overall job at his spot.

Antone Exum has emerged in training camp as the #1 contender to take over for Blanton. After being less than 100% physically last year, the sixth round pick is reportedly showing the speed he demonstrated in college when he was considered a top cornerback prospect.

Exum has also improved his mental approach according to Mike Zimmer (via ESPN):

"“We had a couple of guys last year that came in here as rookies that really didn’t know how to act. He was actually one of them. He has grown up a lot,” Zimmer said. “Now, it seems important to him. It seems like he’s understanding what the coaches want, want we want to do, what [defensive backs coach] Jerry [Gray]’s trying to get done with him.”"

The Vikings could use more of an athletic playmaker in their other safety spot, not just a guy like Blanton who does a solid job. It looks like Antone Exum is giving Blanton a serious challenge.

At least until Exum screws up and ticks off Mike Zimmer.

Next: Mick Tingelhoff enters Hall of Fame

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