Vikings safety Greg Blue tried to prepare himself for training camp. Sure, the minicamps were helpful, the offseason conditioning program useful. Yes, the defensive schemes the Vikings use are relatively similar to Georgia, where Blue played college football. Heck, even the sultry heat of the southeast makes 90-degree days in Mankato seem like comfortable autumn afternoons to Blue.
"For training camp, it's about the coolest ever for me," Blue said.
Just two weeks into training camp it appears the situation might be cooler for Blue in more ways than one. As a fifth-round pick in the draft last spring, Blue is validating the personnel department's choice to make him their man.
At 6-2, 216 pounds, Blue can hit, especially for a safety. That he has opened eyes throughout camp. He has quickly built a reputation for his hard-hitting knocks that are a timely, if not pleasant, surprise since starting safety Tank Williams, one of the Vikings' top free agent signings in the offseason, broke his kneecap last week and is out for the season.
The ladder on the Vikings' depth chart at safety is steep. Even with Williams out for the season, safeties on the roster include Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith, Willie Offord, Will Hunter and Ahmad Treaudo, so Blue knows playing time must be earned.
"I really haven't thought about Tank being out," Blue said. "I'm sad it happened to him. We were being really cool with each other. So whether he was here or not, I just go out there and try to do what I've been doing from day one."
Day one started in 2002 when, as a freshman, Blue helped Georgia win its first SEC Championship in 20 years and finish the season ranked third in the nation. Blue really came on in his final two seasons when he made 176 tackles as a safety. Last year, he was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in the nation.
But he is a rookie here at training camp. Even though his resume is loaded and he has already opened a few eyes in August, he has yet to play an exhibition game, let alone a regular season game.
"You acknowledge that there are going to be some mistakes," defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said of Blue and Hunter, his young safeties. "You don't necessarily like it, but you acknowledge that it's going to happen. But they're not making the same mistake twice for the most part, and that's part of the process for a young guy, particularly at the safety position."
Blue says the mental mistakes will be kept to a minimum.
"We're a simple defense and when I was in Georgia we ran a similar defense to what we are running now," Blue said. "There is different terminology and everything and that's hard to learn new technology so quick, but that's football."
Blue's Hits Making an Impression
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