That didn’t happen.
Veteran Terence Newman locked down the job and never gave it up.
As the Vikings close out the Mankato portion of training camp, defensive coordinator George Edwards talked about the opportunity Waynes has had with the occasional sidelining of Newman during camp.
“He’s been doing a very good job,” Edwards said. “Waynes has shown that he’s been able to retain the information and shown it on the field. He’s made plays when he has had the chance, and he got the chance to go with the ones. And that’s going to be a continuous process to keep seeing him go. Now we’re getting to practicing against Cincinnati and playing in games. We want to just see him continue to grow through the whole process. It’s a journey, and we’re just looking for him to keep competing every day, just like he’s doing. The process kind of handles itself that way.”
Waynes has made the most of his opportunity, but it doesn’t mean that Newman has lost his spot.
Far from it.
“I think Terence has done a great job from where we started off in camp,” Edwards said. “He’s had a nagging injury, but he has popped back out there. Every time he’s out there, he’s competitive. Good awareness. He brings a lot to the table and a lot to that room, a lot to our room defensively as far as, his experience. We’re excited where we are right now.”
Newman has missed two days of practice, with Waynes getting his reps with the first-team defense on those days.
When Newman was brought into the Vikings organization, it was to be the most-versed player in the Zimmer/Edwards secondary. He had to prove he still had the chops to be a starter in the system. He did, but, perhaps more importantly, Newman helped bridge the gap in terms of on-field communication as to what his younger teammates were seeing pre-snap.
That role can’t be underestimated. Edwards has seen the difference in the Vikings secondary in terms of reading and reacting on instinct, a communication improvement that can’t be denied.
“Yes, there’s no doubt,” Edwards said of the improved recognition of the secondary to what they’re seeing. “That’s the big thing when, all of a sudden with our offense, we get a lot of shifts. You get a lot of motion. It’s very good and comforting to know that those guys are tuned in to what’s getting ready to happen, whether they’re changing a split of a receiver or shift and change the whole formation. But you can see the communication going and I think that gives them a jump on what to anticipate and what’s getting ready to happen by formation, down-and-distance and those type of things. That’s a big thing that we wanted to emphasize coming into training camp, and they’ve done a good job of carrying that out.”
There is some debate as to whether Newman’s role as a defensive starter who sees the vast majority of snaps will continue or not. Waynes has made his case to date that he’s ready to step in and make plays.
Is the competition for a starting job open or will Newman be the incumbent who is in the starting lineup? That’s the question that Edwards is waiting to see play itself.
What is more important? Getting Waynes on the field in critical situation or going with the known commodity in Newman?
“I think that both plays a part of both of it,” Edwards said. “But, as Coach (Zimmer) always says, we want to have competition at each spot.”