The personnel shakeup in the secondary appears to have taken a step forward.
Prior to the Giants game, the Vikings inserted Dale Carter into the starting lineup at left corner, moving rookie Eric Kelly to the right side. They got Robert Griffith back at strong safety and pulled the plug on Orlando Thomas at free safety in favor of second-year man Tyrone Carter.
The early returns seem favorable.
Dale Carter commented that the speed of the game was an adjustment to him, but his play hasn't really reflected that. In fact, with just a few starts under his belt, he already looks like the best all-around corner the Vikings have had since Green has been here.
He's been a shutdown cover guy and really been physical in run support and tackling. He seems to have really taken advantage of the second chance with the Vikings and hopefully figures into their long-term plans.
"Dale made some good plays," Green said. "I think he's a great competitor and I think he has played very well. He did a good job. He's been very solid. Dale had a lot of good plays out there. He will get better each week … as he gets more into it. That is saying something for a guy that has been out for a year and a half."
Griffith's return has also been a huge plus.
"Griff had an immediate impact," Green said. "It's very difficult for a guy to show up and play and know that you made that big of a difference. He's done that in the way of leadership. It shows up in practice. That's Griff. Griff has just meant so much to our program."
"Griff has had a little bit of rust," according to assistant head coach/defensive backs Willie Shaw said. "But it'll get a lot better."
The younger guys — Tyrone Carter, Kelly, and Robert Tate and Kenny Wright in nickel and dime situations — have also held their own in their new roles.
"The defense is only going to get better," Shaw told VU. "Dale is going to be better as the weeks go by. Griff is going to get better as he plays more. Tyrone is learning his position. This group is going to be much better as they get used to playing together."
The Vikings may still have some significant problems personnel-wise, but it no longer looks like it's in the secondary for the first time in quite a while.
Secondary Changes Bring Improvement
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