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.

Tags: ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 37 Comments »

37 Responses to “Johnson, Sanford Continue Battle For Starting Safety Spot”

  1. By TW VIKE on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Who cares, Vikings did nothing for our secondary. I will be at our opening game in San Diego watching Rivers light our ASS-UP!!! Mike Numbskull, should have left with that BRAIN-SURGEON Chilly who let Moss go. Berrian? PLEASE. Sydney loves West Coast weather. LONG SEASON!!!!! NumbSkull, you are going to run out of your B.S. this year. Vikingsfreak, are you out there? See you in San Diego? TWVIKE

  2. By Kyle on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    We had the 10th overall defense last year with all the injuries we had so chill out. Sidney rice was a one year wonder who felt he was worth 8 mil a year and the vikes weren’t going to match that. Is he a good player? Yes, when he’s healthy. Philip rivers is never himself the first month and a half of the season so I’m not even worried about it. Our d line will be able to get pressure and force bad throws our secondary can capitalize on. Just watch.

  3. By Skol_Vikes98 on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Ok TW, first of all relax on the hate speech. Hate speech makes posters look like they have nothing real to say. If you want people to read into your real comment, I.E. continued worries about the secondary, maybe you should approach it that way and leave the hate, random caps, and strange punctuation out of it.

    Second, I agree wtih Kyle. We’ve continuously had a prominet defense under Fraiser, last year being the one gap. Yeah, with some new starters on the line and Griffin and Winfield getting older, there are going to be some lasp. We don’t need to have a perfect D fense to win games. We just need to limit mistakes and be sharp in key places.

  4. By Lol on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    The thing is, we ARE doing better with our secondary. People expect us to suddenly bounce back and become a SB caliber team in a season.

    The NFL doesn’t work that way. The problem currently is, by the time we’re all good and built up, our veterans will have gone away.

  5. By Vikings4Life on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Sanford is outplaying tyrell go ahead and cut tyrell he’s not playing any differently than a practice squad player he is replaceable.

  6. By Shawn on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    I used to think Sanford was better but I really havent noticed either one this preseason … one of them needs to make plays this year or be replaced next year

  7. By Daniel on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    It will be interesting to see who has a better career in the Nfl. Ponder or Webb. At the moment, Webb has more upside due to McNabbs experiance and athletic ability combined with his smarts. Ponder on the other hand has A very accurate arm and an intelegence to lead and manage an offence. The sudden rising of mike Vick reminds me of Webb. Last year Webb smoked Vicks performance. How could we draft A QB in the first round with a Talent like Webb in the wing if we knew we were going to pick up mcNabb in the first place. Seems to me two differant styles of play for one QB. We should have used our first rnd pick on something smarter. I mean comeon vikes! Oh well. I am behind the pick but Webb better pay off.

  8. By Daniel on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Purple and gold never seems to let me down. I only hope thier tactics make sence. I have a good feeling about our new staff though. Their camp has been great and thier body of work through the preseason has been looked over with a close eye. this to me feels like life is in the staff again. Seems like Brett and team played when we made that run and the year after just went into a pit. Love Ponder though, even if he sounds like Rocky “adrian!!”

  9. By Rick on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Doesn’t matter really, Mistral Raymond is our future. He and Abdullah will eventually be our starting safeties.

  10. By NovaScotiaVike on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Mike W, how do you think McNabb or Ponder (or Frazier for that matter) feel about seeing Favre’s and Childress’s names on this blog in BIG letters?

  11. By DuaneN on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Rice timed his surgery last season on purpose. He didn’t want to risk playing bad, would have cost him a lot of money. I don’t want to believe this but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

  12. By Titus on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Does have some logic to it, Duane, considering self-interest is the overriding principle motivation of mice and men (nations too).

  13. By Titus on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    If I were the coaching staff, I would have difficulty choosing a second QB, but politics will play its role. They picked Ponder in the first round, clearly a big choice with franchise implications. On the other hand, Webb seems somehow to get it done and score. Very difficult, but Ponder has played well, very close to Webb, and actually maybe better than Webb. Webb has a huge advantage over Ponder at this point in their development and if you factor that in, then Ponder may have the edge. Webb’s advantage is that he has played in the NFL, in some big games against some strong D’s like Chicago”s and Philly’s. Ponder never played in the NFL till this preseason and he looks good. Unless Ponder plays poorly Thursday, expect Ponder to be number 2.

  14. By Parody on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply


    At the end of Pagac’s press conference he shoots down a reporter’s question because the reporter is wearing a stupid hat. Just how stupid was it? The camera man really needs to realize when it’s important to move the camera for the first time in his career…

  15. By Vikings4Life on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Ponder is not looking good, I don’t know what game you’ve been watching but he is fair at best. Maybe down the road I might be wrong but ponder has long ways to go he’s struggling to stay in the pocket and make throws. He is good at throwing on the run and scrambling but for right now ponder is playing like a 3rd string nfl qb he has been disappointing he has no composure he’s not accurate as I thought he would be its too early but webb would be my 2nd qb if It was up to me.

  16. By PAUL M. on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply





  17. By Frederick Jones on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    T O U C H D O W N ! ! ! Adrian Titus ! ! !

    Let’s be sure NOT TO mention the blocks by:

    Shawn (Has a chance to start because of great determination)
    Nova (A great lockerroom guy)
    DRS (great technique !)
    Daniel (Could be as smart as Ponder)
    CA Norwegian (Pancake !)
    Mike B. (Enforcer)
    Arrow 86 (Don’t know much about this guy, future all-pro?)

    Arrow 86

  18. By viks4life44 on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    The vikings struggle in pass defence,but Jared Allen will kill Rivers and Peterson has great rushing against them So Go Vikings!!!!

  19. By NovaScotiaVike on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Fred, thanks, gotta keep everyone smilin!!!!

  20. By Skol_Vikes89 on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    I feel left out Fred

  21. By CA Norwegian on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    You forgot to include yourself…
    Sir Frederick ‘Tarkenton’ Jones.

    I’ll take ‘Pancake’ as a positive, coming from a fellow lineman.

    Just to be fair, I’ll say I am infavor of keeping more big blocking types like Kleinsasser and D’Imperio and Dugan, than I am for keeping more speedsters. I do not think the over the top game will be as steady over the long season, as the pounding, pancake game.

  22. By CA Norwegian on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    I have alternate ideas of Webb vs Ponder. Webb needs to be out there. If you make it a wildcat package, call it a “Webbcat.” Let McNabb throw laterals or pitches to him… Let AP learn to give reverses to him.

  23. By sandiamond on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    cool name CA! I think everyone will be happy after the qb depth is set. Ponder #2 to take care of the football politics(high draft pick) and Webb#3 actually gets more snaps than Ponder overall with the webbcat package

  24. By Frederick Jones on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    @CA Norwegian,

    Yeah that is a great name “WebbCat.”

    Things change faster than most of us want in this world.

    I believe that Webb might be pioneering a new type of
    QB in the NFL: RQB or the Runfirst QB.

    There seem to be more running qbs in the nfl now, than
    ever before. Joe Webb had 2 x 1000 yard rushing
    years in college to pair with 2000 yard p a s s i n g seasons.

  25. By Frederick Jones on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    People often talk about Ponder being smart, and he is intelligent.

    But it takes intelligence to jump and move like Joe does. He
    is also smart enough to throw touch p a s s e s when necessary.

    Joe Webb is a very smart guy. Like Ponder all he needs is
    experience. I think we may have two extremely gifted prospects.

    They may battle back and forth thru the years for the starting
    positon after McNabb leaves/retires.

  26. By Rocksalt on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    I agree, Fred.I hope that Ponder’s book smarts can translate into on the field smarts…..

  27. By Rocksalt on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Joe Montana was probably not an impressive scholar, but the dude was a very smart football player…….

  28. By Titus on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Ponder has never played in the NFL– give him a few games, he will be great. He showed great poise in the two minute drill on Sat vs Dallas. We would have comeback with a few more seconds and a timeout.

  29. By Skol_Vikes98 on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    I like the idea of running with 2 QBs in the future. Ponder, your ‘starter’ and Webb your Webbcat man. Instead of having one QB it would be more like a RB rotation or WR rotation, switching in Webb when it seems like a good fit. Red zone situations, teams that protect the pass well but not the run. Whenever his skill set would seem to work better. Keep ponder as your field general, but Webb as the sneak attack.

  30. By viking fan on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    whats your thougths on rookie center brandon fusco he is a real animal on the field will he be on this roster week 1 vs the texans

  31. By Kenny on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Ok. Remi Ayodele…What’s up? He is one of the few free agents we signed and he was signed to a pretty good size contract. My question to any of my fellow vike fans is what has he done this preseason? I’ve really be excited about the play from Ballard and Griffen but Ayodele was slated to start at Dt in Pat Williams old spot. I have watch most of preseason games but hae not heard squat about Ayodele. Is he hurt?: He is listed on active roster still, so he is playing but has he done anything at all? With K-Will missing possible games due to suspension/injury (foot) i expect Ballard to fill in well and expected Ayodele to stuff the run like or at least like Pat did, But again i have’nt seen nothing from him.

  32. By Immureglass21 on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Viking Fan to answer your question no he’ll not be on the roster week 1 vs the texans but he’ll probably be on the roster for week 1 vs the chargers though because the Vikings need more depth at center.

  33. By Immureglass21 on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Kenny Yea Remi has been pretty quiet the preseason but I have heard his name mentioned a few times on some plays. I think that if big Kev is out for a couple games do to suspension or injury I think Remi will be the starting DT do to the fact he has more experience than Ballard and Griffen but I see alot of upside in both the young guys.

  34. By chris jones on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    we need speed and physical play at safety so start the hardest hitter

  35. By Rogerthevikefan on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Fusco is more physical then Sully if not for the lock out Fusco probably would have earned the starting job, but Sully has looked decent this preseason.

  36. By knight123 on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Unless Sully breaks something he will be our starting center, with Herrera back
    and a healthy offensive line we will be ok. There are some pretty good backups
    on the team already so Fusco will probably be cut with the hope that he makes it to the practice squad which is likely because he is raw, he will get some playing
    time in the Texans game, I’ll be looking for him.

  37. By jack on Nov 2, 2011 | Reply


Post a Comment