Found June 16, 2012 on Fox Sports North:
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. When the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the end of the first round of April's NFL draft to select Harrison Smith, it was widely believed the team had a certain starter at one of its two safety positions. Minnesota gave up its early second-round pick and a fourth-round slot to ensure it wouldn't miss the change to acquire Smith. A day later, coach Leslie Frazier cautiously said Smith would be "penciled" into the starting lineup. Frazier wasn't marking anything in pen, but pencil was safe.Yet, through two weeks of organized team activities, the safeties practicing with the first team were the same combination that ended last season. Smith, working with the second team, was behind Mistral Raymond and Jamarca Sanford. Smith, taken with the 29th overall pick out of Notre Dame, finally started seeing first-team reps this past week. But it wasn't an ascension to the starting spot as much as it was the coaches trying to see which players work best together."That's exactly what we're trying to do," Frazier said. "Begin to rotate guys and match a little bit just to see how they would gel together. We'll continue to do it. We've got quite a bit of time before we get to that first game, but we're going to mix and see how guys work together and develop some chemistry in that secondary, and that's a part of what happened today."There is a lot to work out before the season opener on Sept. 9. Will Smith be ready to start initially as a rookie. How much has Raymond improved in his second season? Can Sanford hold off the younger players and keep his starting spot? How will Robert Blanton, the fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, do in his transition from cornerback to safety?All of the questions will need to be answered, but Smith's role will certainly be the most scrutinized. He seemed the perfect fit for Minnesota, a versatile talent coming to a team in dire need of upgrades in the secondary. Smith is considered a strong tackler and also has the coverage ability to play deep in the Vikings' Cover-2 system.But the transition to the NFL is taking some time. Smith admits to making "plenty" of mistakes in the early going. He said he isn't concerned with who is lining up as the starter. And really, in June, the depth chart only serves as fodder and a look at who might be leading any potential competitions. So, Smith is worrying more about learning the defense than earning a starting spot."As an overview I feel pretty confident in the calls and stuff like that," Smith said. "It's the details that make you a good player, a great player. That's what I need to get better at. And then just learning formations better, learning what offenses like to do in certain situations, being a situational player. All that stuff adds up to being a great player."Smith caught Frazier's attention during Tuesday's OTAs."I saw a play today where he really got angry," Frazier said. "He got pretty fired up and you kind of need that out of your defensive backs. You need them to have a little something about them. It was good to see."Smith has plenty of competition. Frazier said he needs to see Sanford in pads and how is able to make tackles in the open field and his range in pass coverage. Raymond has had a full offseason in the team's program and surely will be better for it. And there was the dream of potentially having two Notre Dame rookies starting together. It might happen one day, but it doesn't sound as if that day is coming soon. Blanton is still trying to make the switch from college cornerback to NFL safety. Frazier hopes he will contend for a starting spot and isn't ready to concede this as a development season for Blanton, but Frazier isn't sure when the rookie will be ready either."There are some things you look at and you just know will take a little bit of time, just getting accustomed to being out in space,' Frazier said. "That's different for him. When you're lined up and you have the sideline as like a 12th man. You don't have that at safety and the angles are all different. That takes time. And he's getting it, but we've got to continue to expose him to more situations and we're doing that. I think he'll get it. It's just a matter of how fast will it come. Will it be before the Jacksonville game or will it be a little bit after that?"Will Smith be ready for Jacksonville in the season opener? Now that he's had some reps with the starters, he could be closer to taking hold of the position? Either way, he's said he won't change the way he plays."You've got to play like you're never going to arrive," Smith said. "No matter how good I get or what I progress to, there will always something to be better at. So, there's really no end point. It's just getting better every day." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.

Brandon Fusco to start for Vikings?

The Vikings used the 4th overall selection on Matt Kalil in the 2012 NFL Draft and will plug him in at left tackle, where he will be a major upgrade. However, that doesn’t solve all of their offensive line problems. Guard is still a major position of weakness for them. The Vikings started Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera there last offseason and now both are gone. Hutchinson...

Vikings plan to move Rudolph outside at times

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. The sight of Kyle Rudolph all 6-foot-6, 258 pounds of him split out wide in the Minnesota Vikings' offense is striking, a stark contrast to the slighter receivers typically lined up in the same area.Rudolph, the team's second-round pick in 2011, has found himself in the spot often during organized team activities the past three weeks. It's also...

Carr's role for Vikings includes teaching

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Intentional or not, the Minnesota Vikings had a recurring theme during free agency this offseason, taking chances on reclamation projects by signing players coming off significant, sometimes season-ending, injuries. The approach brought Minnesota around to Chris Carr in early April to help the beleaguered secondary. Carr was coming off an injury-riddled 2011...

Greenway still hosting Father’s Day run

Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway will continue to host a Father’s Day fundraising 5K run despite tending to the health of his own father. Plus, the new Stadium Authority has been named and next week’s minicamp schedule is set.

2012 Post Draft Winners/Losers: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings lost for winnning last season as their week 16 meaningless victory in Washington was very costly in multiple ways. Minnesota lost all everything RB Adrian Peterson to an ACL/MCL injury and dropped to the #3 draft spot (one spot behind St Louis which got multiple picks from Washington in the RG3 sweepstakes). Despite playing in the loaded NFC North, 2nd year QB Christian...

Carr getting used to Vikings’ zone scheme

The Vikings added a veteran presence when they signed CB Chris Carr, but the 29-year-old is getting used to Minnesota’s zone coverages after playing primarily man with the Baltimore Ravens. See what Carr had to say about the differences, working with the Vikings’ young CBs and more.

What Your Vikings Gift to your Dad Says this Father's Day

Did you remember Father's Day is just around the corner? "Oh, ****, no!" Yeah, well ... I'll give you like 20 seconds to go send a card but you done messed up already, you know that right? Regardless, Father's Day holds a special place in our hearts at Purple Jesus Diaries because it helps us be reminded of our favorite father, namely, whichever deity you worship...

Minnesota Vikings 2012 Schedule Analysis

Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week...

Dynasty Fantasy Football: Vikings QB Joe Webb and Others Are Hidden Treasures

Joe Webb could be a hidden gem for Dynasty Fantasy Football owners. Editor’s Note:  Our newest writer, Thomas Casale, runs a fantasy football blog at His column, “The Fire Sale,” is featured on CNN/SI every week during the NFL season. Thomas started writing about fantasy football in 1998 and his work has been published on a number of different...

No workout for Banks with Vikings on Friday

By TIM YOTTER The Vikings and free-agent linebacker Brian Banks are trying to schedule to a workout, but it won't be today, according to a source. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier confirmed the Vikings' interest in Banks Tuesday, saying, "I know in talking to (general manager Rick Spielman) and the scouting staff, that's something that we've talked...

Dynasty Fantasy Football: Vikings QB Joe Webb and Others Are Hidden Treasures

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="495" caption="Joe Webb could be a hidden gem for Dynasty Fantasy Football owners."][/caption] Editor’s Note:  Our newest writer, Thomas Casale, runs a fantasy football blog at His column, “The Fire Sale,” is featured on CNN/SI every week during the NFL season. Thomas...
Vikings 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!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.