With the Vikings having such an exceptional running defense being the NFl leading rush D for the past couple of seasons now. This is a reason why the Vikes usually do not have the best past defense number in the league. The Vikings as a group in the secondary did improve from 2007 to 2008. They were the last in the league in 2007 giving up 241 yards a game to giving up 215 yards per game for an 18th rank in the NFL.
It looks like that there will be battles in the secondary this year in training camp. With the departure of Darren Sharper, the Strong Safety position will be open. Here is a list of players that are on the team for now. I believe only 9 will remain at the end.
20 Madieu Williams S 6-1 203 Maryland
21 Marcus McCauley CB 6-1 203 Fresno State
22 Benny Sapp CB 5-9 190 Northern Iowa
23 Cedric Griffin CB 6-0 203 Texas
24 Marcus Walker CB 5-11 191 Oklahoma
25 Tyrell Johnson SS 6-0 207 Arkansas State
26 Antoine Winfield CB 5-9 180 Ohio State
27 Derrick Roberson CB 5-10 182 Rutgers
30 Asher Allen CB 5-9 194 Georgia
31 Karl Paymah CB 6-0 195 Washington State
33 Jamarca Sanford S 5-10 200 Mississippi
37 Eric Frampton S 5-11 205 Washington State
39 Husain Abdullah FS 6-0 204 Washington State
41 Charles Gordon CB 5-11 180 Kansas*
Bold were starters last season
*-denotes finished the season on Injured Reserved
Out the players that I see have their positions locked down are Antonio Winfield and Madieu Williams. Antonio Winfield has been a dominant force since he has become a Viking. He is a reliable cornerback. He is able to shutdown route for some of the premier receivers in the game. Winfield also is not afraid on putting a good lick on running backs coming around the corner either. He is one of the most underrated corners in the game.
Madieu Williams came to the Vikings as a free agent signing last season. He had a neck injury in the 1st quarter of the season. He is a decent safety, but now he will have to tutor an inexperienced player on the other side of him. He rarely gets burnt for a touchdown. He is dependable tackler deep in the secondary as a free safety.
With the Strong Safety position open. There are four players trying to win this spot: Tyrell Johnson, Jamarca Sanford, Eric Frampton and Husain Abdullah. After all is said and done it seems that Johnson will be starting on the other side of Williams come Week 1. Johnson was a rookie last year and was starting as a Free Safety when Williams was out with his neck injury. He was learning last season, he was having a rough time. The Vikings are hoping that after what he has learned will help him this season. It is going to be a battle for this position.
As long as Cedric Griffin plays the way that he did last season, it seems that Griffin will be the other starting cornerback for the Vikes this season. He did a decent job considering that he had more passes coming his way due the fact that Winfield had a Pro Bowl year last season. This means that more passes came his way.
The battle for pass backs (nickel and dime) for the Vikes will tough this season. The Viking will have many difficult decisions in this department. It looks like there will be 10 players competing for five positions. Right now I see these players making the final ax:
§ Charles Gordon (excels at punt returns and nickel coverage)
§ Karl Paymah
§ Asher Allen
§ Jamarca Sanford
§ Benny Sapp
§ Eric Frampton or Marcus McCauley