Free Safety Up For Debate

Some local draft analysts thought the Vikings would address the recurring problems in the secondary through the draft -- i.e. Marcus Trufant. As it turned out, the Vikings didn't take a DB in the draft and, as the team's first developmental camp opened, so did the question of both safety positions.

One of the by-products of draft weekend was finding who stands where with the Vikings. One position completely wide open -- and one that should be a front-burner concern -- is safety.

As the Vikes' first developmental camp opened Monday -- a precursor to the full-squad minicamp this weekend -- the safety position remains unanswered.

Safety remains a huge question. When the team signed Corey Chavous a year ago, one of the reasons he came to Minnesota was the other free-agent suitors saw him as a safety. The Vikings said you're a cornerback. Late last year, he was asked and accepted a move to safety. Now he's the only sure thing -- a player who didn't want to be safety, but now is, and being asked to play strong safety.

Free agency may change that. Lee Flowers is a name that keeps surfacing and he may be a viable option. As it stands now, Chavous is seen as the strong safety. Free safety is up for grabs. That's why Monday was critical -- as the rest of the week will be.

Two players -- Willie Offord and Jack Brewer -- are currently the frontrunners for the starting free safety job. The Vikes would like to envision Offord as the permanent starter, but reality is causing a split of opinion.

A high-placed VU source told us that, if the season were to start now, Brewer would be the starter. The feeling is that Offord was thrown to the wolves too early as a rookie and that his confidence is an issue. Brewer came on late and, from what VU is told, if all things are equal between now and August, it's his -- not Offord's -- job to lose.

With a lot of free agent money still available, this situation may change. But, as of today, this is where it stands.

* Four players -- WRs Derrick Alexander and Cedric James, kicker Hayden Epstein and defensive lineman Willie Howard -- will not take part in the full-squad minicamp. Of those four, VU has told that that two or more of them won't be on the final 53-man roster. How they work out that math will come down to the next four months.
* One of the interesting Monday highlights was that LB Nick Rogers spent several reps as a defensive end -- a pass-rush specialist like many draft observers thought Terrell Suggs would be if drafted as a DE. Whether the experiment takes or not, it seems like an indication that defensive gameplans were configured to include a "Suggsian" player as a pass-rushing undersized DE.

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