Johnson, Sanford Continue Battle For Starting Safety Spot

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 30, 2011 – 3:18 pm

QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb have rotated starts and shared practice reps and playing time this preseason as the Vikings offensive coaching staff tries to make a determination about which guy will be the backup to veteran Donovan McNabb. The defensive coaching staff has employed a similar tactic in trying to determine who will start with Husain Abdullah at the safety position.

Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford are the two players vying for a starting role in Defensive Coordinator Fred Pagac’s scheme and their competition hasn’t yielded an answer, yet. But from the sounds of it, Pagac and the rest of the Vikings coaching staff will be ready to make a decision after Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans.

“The guys have been fighting all of camp,” Pagac said. “I think both of them have done an excellent job. Obviously they’re going to continue to fight and we’re going to make a decision after this game. We’ll see how they do and I’ll tell you what, both of them have done a very good job so far.”

While Johnson or Sanford apparently haven’t been able to separate from the competition, it’s at least good news to know that both guys are competing and are playing well enough to remain in consideration for the starting job. Had either or both players been underperforming – and thus the coaching staff unable to name one of them the starter – then we would’ve seen other names emerge as possibilities, such as rookie Mistral Raymond or perhaps a player on the open market.

As it stands, expect both guys to see quite a bit of playing time on Thursday night against Houston. And also don’t be surprised if this is a competition that continues throughout the season, which will increase the level of performance from both players.

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