Sanford earning defensive playing time

Rookie Jamarca Sanford was a seventh-round pick, but he's beginning to earn playing time on defense in addition to his role on special teams.

Although coach Brad Childress downplayed any potential change in starter at the strong safety position, it was interesting that rookie Jamarca Sanford replaced Tyrell Johnson in the third series of the Vikings' victory over the Giants on Sunday and that the two players both saw time at the position.

Johnson has had issues with his tackling at times this season and the Vikings like the fact that Sanford has established himself as a hard hitter on special teams and when given a chance at safety. Sanford replaced Johnson for the Dec. 13 game against Cincinnati when Johnson sat out with a concussion.

"We wanted to get Jamarca in there a little bit and get his feet wet," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "He has done a good job with the snaps that he's had. He's played extremely well, and continued to play extremely well (Sunday) on special teams. He's a good ball player, a good hitter."

It's possible the next change at safety will be made not because of an injury but for performance reasons.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 - Number of Vikings who have won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award: Percy Harvin (2009), Adrian Peterson (2007), Randy Moss (1998), Sammy White (1976), Chuck Foreman (1973) and Paul Flatley (1963).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You watch like a fan. You can wear yourself out trying to figure out all the scenarios and who's doing what and when you're going to play and who you're going to face. It's probably almost best to just kind of get away from it mentally for a week and watch like everybody else. Then when next week rolls around it will be back into the weekly normal grind." — Pro Bowl Guard Steve Hutchinson on his approach to watching games this weekend as the Vikings wait to see who they will play host to on Jan. 17 in the divisional round.


  • WR Percy Harvin, who missed a game in December because of severe migraines, said he hasn't experienced any of the headaches since visiting the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., a couple of weeks ago.

  • DT Jimmy Kennedy continues to recover from a thumb injury suffered against Chicago on Dec. 28, and it remains unclear if he will be able to play in the Vikings' opening playoff game.

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe, who has battled rib and thigh injuries, also has been dealing with a turf toe issue.

  • NT Pat Williams will remain in the Twin Cities this week to continue to receive treatment on his injured elbow. Williams played in the regular-season finale against the Giants after sitting out the previous game against Chicago.

  • CB Antoine Winfield played 15 to 20 snaps last Sunday against the Giants in the nickel. His reps were limited because he had struggled the previous two games playing on an injured right foot that caused him to sit out six games earlier this season. It's unclear if Winfield will stay as the inside man in the nickel when the playoff start. Benny Sapp started in place of Winfield at left corner on Sunday.

  • WR Percy Harvin became the sixth player in Vikings history to be named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year. Harvin's 2,081 combined yards broke the franchise mark established by running back Herschel Walker in 1990 (2,051 yards). Harvin's 60 receptions were the second most by a Vikings rookie, falling short of Randy Moss' 69 in 1998.

  • This season marks the first year the Vikings have had a bye week in the opening round of the playoffs since they won the NFC Central with an 11-5 record in 2000. The Vikings beat New Orleans, 34-16, in their divisional playoff game that season but lost, 41-0, to the Giants in the NFC championship game.

  • DE Jared Allen finished second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks this season and has 29 in his first two years with the Vikings. Allen's total is at 31 if you include the two he had in a playoff game against Philadelphia last season.

  • WR Sidney Rice, who had 537 yards receiving in his first two seasons, finished this year fourth in the NFL with 1,312 yards. His 83 receptions placed him 12th in the NFL.

  • Visanthe Shiancoe set a single-season record for a Vikings tight end and finished tied for fourth among all players in the NFL with 11 touchdown receptions.

  • RB Adrian Peterson finished fifth in rushing with 1,383 yards after leading the NFL last season. Peterson's 18 touchdowns led the NFL and all came on rushing attempts. Peterson's fifth-place finish was the lowest he has had in his three-year career.

  • The Vikings streak of three consecutive No. 1 rankings in run defense came to an end as Minnesota finished second to the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings' established a modern-era record with their three-year run. This season, Minnesota gave up 87.1 yards per game on the ground. Green Bay was tops with only 83.3 yards surrendered per game.

  • The Vikings have faced two of three teams they might play in the postseason. Dallas, which will travel to Minnesota if it knocks off Philadelphia, played the Vikings in the preseason but not the regular season. The Vikings lost 30-17 at Arizona on Dec. 6 and swept division rival Green Bay.

  • The Vikings had six receivers this season with at least 40 catches. According to Elias Sports Bureau it is only the second time in NFL history a team has accomplished the feat. The other team to do it was the 1983 Dallas Cowboys.

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