With three active safeties against the Seattle Seahawks – Andrew Sendejo was out with a knee injury – the Minnesota Vikings lost Harrison Smith 10 plays into the game. That meant Antone Exum, making his second start, and Robert Blanton were the safeties … until Blanton was lost for one play because of a knee injury.
The Vikings quickly shifted Newman to safety and inserted rookie Trae Waynes at Newman’s cornerback spot. It only lasted one play before Blanton returned, but it could be a portent of things to come in Newman’s future.
“Could be. I’d have to wait and see what happens though. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but at some point I’m pretty sure that could be an option for sure,” Newman said Monday.
Newman said his concentration this week will be at cornerback, despite playing some safety in Monday’s practice in preparation for the Arizona Cardinals, who have the NFL’s top-ranked offense. Zimmer said Newman “won’t have to” play safety on Thursday.
Most likely, the Vikings will promote Anthony Harris from the practice squad and have him active on Thursday with injuries to Smith, Sendejo, Exum and Blanton keeping them out of practice on Monday. Exum is expected to miss two to three weeks with rib and shoulder injuries, according to ESPN.
“I’ve played a lot of football in my life so I’m pretty comfortable with whatever they ask me to do,” Newman said. “If they need me, I’ll be there.”
Newman said playing safety full-time hasn’t been discussed with Zimmer because the team is entrenched with the “in” part of their season. The offseason, however, might entice the Vikings to bring up that discussion with Newman, who is on a one-year contract with the team.
“Right now, I’m a corner. In the future we’ll probably definitely have to visit that situation, but right now I don’t think it’s much of a conversation just for the simple fact that I think I’ve played 11 games at corner,” Newman said.
Newman discounted the notion that it would be a significant shift for him. He would still study formations and receivers, but at safety there would be more attention paid to the quarterback rather than just the receivers.
“Wouldn’t corner probably be the harder part because you don’t actually get to face (the quarterback)?” he asked.
“The safety part to me is much easier, I guess, for me to study because I don’t have to look as much at the receivers, but I definitely have to approach it as I’m going to play corner. And then the safety part, it’s more what to do. So I think taking it from that aspect, you must prepare as a corner and then the safety part is pretty much the same. I just know what I have to do, where I have to fit and where I have to be at.”
On a short week and with injuries to each of the top four safeties, Newman is still spending his time studying as a cornerback.
“They may put me back there. I don’t know what the situation is,” he said Monday. “At this point, I’m just kind of waiting and see, just like you. I don’t know what the situation is going to be. Guys are injured, but we’ve got three days before there’s got to be a definitive plan. I’m pretty much just waiting and seeing what happens.”