Competition at Safety

While there are question marks at several positions on the Vikings roster, the only question at safety is whether the team will be able to keep five safeties on the roster or if one has to go.

Of all the position battles that will go on during training camp for the Vikings, one of the most competitive and spirited is likely to be at safety. While the Vikings are short on depth at several positions, safety is not one of them and the push for playing time and roster spots will be fierce.

Returning are starters Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith, both solid veterans who can make big plays. Sharper is entering his 11th season but still looks strong, while Smith is coming into his seventh year and is looking to lock down the strong safety starting position. But there will be competition for playing time for each of them.

Tank Williams returns after missing the entire 2006 season with a broken kneecap suffered during the preseason. The team also took a gamble on Mike Doss, a free agent from the Colts who was familiar with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's philosophies within the Tampa-2 defense. Like Williams, Doss missed 10 games last year with a torn ACL, but, when healthy, is a solid safety with a strong pedigree from Ohio State.

Also factoring in is Greg Blue. A heavy-hitting safety, the second-year pro is coming off a rookie year in which he made two starts and played in all 16 games. A fifth-round draft choice in 2006, Blue made an impact when called upon due to disciplinary reasons with Smith and made his imprint on the squad.

The question heading into training camp is whether the Vikings will be willing to keep five safeties on the 53-man roster. Given the question marks at other positions, that prospect isn't all that likely. In that case, somebody is going to have to go. While injuries often have a way of sorting those questions out – one player takes himself out of the running with a preseason injury – if they don't, the Vikings will have a tough decision at the final cut-down period. Who stays and who goes? At this point, who knows?

* The Bears made a snap judgment last month when they released Tank Johnson on the heels of being arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. The boys from the lab came back with the blood-alcohol data Monday and it turns out that Tank was legal – his BAC was 0.072, below the legal limit.
* The Vikings signed offensive lineman Adam O'Connor on Monday. The guard-tackle prospect was released by the Carolina Panthers before the regular season last year, signed to their practice squad and then released from that on Oct. 17. He played with Hamburg this spring in the now-defunct NFL Europe.

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