EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- With Matt Cassel being named the Minnesota Vikings' starting quarterback, it would seem the team is down to two undecided starting spots -- or perhaps one that's undecided and one that just hasn't been announced yet.
Coach Mike Zimmer said he still wants to see more from the Vikings' safeties in the preseason finale on Thursday night before making a decision on the starter next to Harrison Smith. Of the players fighting for that spot, Robert Blanton got the most work in his first game back from a hamstring injury, playing 34 snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night. Andrew Sendejo saw 29 snaps, followed by Kurt Coleman (20) and Chris Crocker (10).
It's difficult to make any assumptions about a pecking order from those numbers, other than that the Vikings are still trying to see as much of their safeties as possible; Crocker, with whom Zimmer might be more familiar than any player on the roster, started the game but came out for Blanton early. It probably does mean, though, that safety Jamarca Sanford -- who injured his quadriceps on a special teams play on Saturday and didn't practice Monday -- is missing out on valuable chances to make an impression.
"It’s like everything when there are a bunch of guys fighting for a spot; the more you can do to get on evaluation, the better it is," Zimmer said. "We don’t just evaluate on the games. Now the games are a big part of it, because we’re playing against somebody else. Can they carry what we’re teaching them in practice to the game? But we evaluate all of these guys every single day."
Zimmer said he has "a pretty good idea" on what he'll do at middle linebacker, where Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole are still fighting for the starting spot, but likely won't announce a decision until after Thursday's game.
The players involved in the process, though, know they can't think too much about where they stand.
"If you do that, you're going to end up on a sitcom and a reality show," Coleman said. "It's a whirlwind if you try to wrap your mind around that. You've got to control one thing, and that's getting better, fitting in this defense and really perfecting your craft. When it's my turn to go out and get a rep, I've got to put out the best product."