Heading into training camp, one position battle receiving a fair amount of attention was the 3rd CB/nickel back position. It’s a position battle with several dynamics and, according to Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, it’s a position battle still up in the air.
“It’s still a very competitive spot,” Frazier responded when asked about the nickel back position. “We have familiarity with Antoine Winfield because he’s done it before and had a lot of success. The fact that Benny (Sapp) has also played the nickel position gives us some leeway there. But we’re still trying to ascertain where Asher Allen and Karl Paymah are. The fact that Marcus McCauley wasn’t able to play this past week threw a wrench in things, so now we get him back to become part of the evaluation process. It’s still up in the air to a degree.”
As Frazier mentioned, the extra dynamic at play in the nickel back competition is that the veteran Winfield has shown he has the skill set to excel in that role.
“He has made a ton of plays in that nickel spot, a la Ronde Barber in Tampa,” Frazier explained when asked if he would consider moving Winfield inside to play the nickel. “Just because of how effective he is in the run and the pass and matching up against some of the other teams third wide receiver. Either way he has been so effective for us both outside and inside. So we can handle it either way.”
When Winfield is positioned as the nickel back (covering the slot receiver on the inside), it opens up a spot at an outside CB position. As a result, the winner of the 3rd CB position needs to show an ability to play both inside (as a possible nickel back) and outside (as a possible CB while Winfield plays the nickel).
“Ben Sapp is doing a good job for us,” Frazier said. “Asher Allen has come in and done a great job. We know Antoine Winfield can do it if he has to and Karl Paymah made some good plays the other day as a third corner. We’re still in the position where we’re evaluating and deciding who’s going to be that third corner. The way it’s going right now is great for us. They’re all playing so well that whoever wins that spot should make us better.”
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Asher Allen, Benny Sapp, Karl Paymah, Leslie Frazier, Marcus McCauley
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