Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 8/13/12
MANKATO, Minn. The Minnesota Vikings have made it clear that first-round draft pick Harrison Smith needs to earn a starting spot at safety. After two weeks of practice and one preseason game, the rookie from Notre Dame might be doing just that. Smith, who Minnesota traded back in the first round to draft at No. 29 overall, started training camp behind Mistral Raymond and Jamarca Sanford at safety. Raymond and Sanford were the starting safeties at the end of last season and Smith wasn't going to be simply given a starting spot, despite being drafted to finally give the Vikings an all-around playmaker at the position. But Smith started receiving some work with the first-team defense in practice last week and showed a physical edge to his play. In limited time in Friday's game, Smith made a heady play on a reverse, staying his ground and stopping the play for a loss. While Raymond and Sanford remained the starting safeties in practice Monday, coach Leslie Frazier indicated Sunday that Smith could be starting shortly, possibly as soon as Friday's second preseason game when Minnesota hosts the Buffalo Bills. "One of the things when we went back to look at the tape, and we felt this way going in, Harrison was really making a push," Frazier said. "He's going to get a chance to work in that first group, and he did on Friday night as well. He just didn't start the game. It will be the same this week, although we're going to do some things a little bit different with the starting rotations on Friday night. "He's done enough now where we feel confident that he can go out there in a starter's role and we want to see how he performs in that role. He very well could start Friday, he's did some good things when he was in there Friday night." Smith didn't play extensively in the first preseason game. Meanwhile, Raymond and Sanford both struggled at times, specifically in run support as the Vikings' defense struggled as a whole against the run, giving up 260 rushing yards to the San Francisco 49ers. Sanford was caught out of position at times, including on San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick's 78-yard touchdown run. Raymond missed a chance to stop 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs on a play for a minimal gain, but took a bad angle at the big back, who went for 23 yards on the play. "You've got to keep putting him in situations and giving him a chance to make plays,' Frazier said of the second-year safety, Raymond. "He's going to get opportunities like all our guys that are fighting for jobs. You don't want to make a declaration at this point that he can't do it. We've got some more opportunities ahead. So he'll get more opportunities and so will the other guys to make those plays." But with Smith starting to show he is ready for a starting spot, the opportunities become increasingly important for Raymond and Sanford. Smith said he appreciates any repetitions in practice as he adapts to the NFL and was happy to get some first-team work last week after teaming with veteran special teams ace Eric Frampton as safeties on the second unit for much of training camp. Smith was drafted with the belief he'd be a starter, but he understood the coaches making him earn a starting spot. "To me that's how anything should be," Smith said last week. "There's no reason just to give something to somebody without them earning it. That's the way football should be in my opinion." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kevin Love responds to Draymond Green’s ‘annihilation’ trash talk

Spike Lee deletes Instagram post saying Kaepernick signed with Seattle

Errol Spence is the real deal, takes down Kell Brook

Indians reveal Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field

Report: Jerry West considered rejoining the Lakers before they hired Magic Johnson

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

The NHL is thinking about hosting an outdoor game in Nashville

Michael Vick in talks to retire with Falcons

Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning passes away at 85

Roger Goodell to speak at Rams event, tickets start at $550

Ohio State hails itself as the ‘fastest team in college football’

Get a look at Shia LeBeouf as John McEnroe in Borg/McEnroe movie trailer

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker