Vikings continue working Trae Waynes in slot


MANKATO, Minn. -- There is perhaps no surer way for a Minnesota Vikings rookie to get intensive instruction from head coach Mike Zimmer than to be a highly-drafted cornerback, the next in a long line of players Zimmer has taught since his time working with Deion Sanders as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive backs coach in the mid-1990s.

First-round pick Trae Waynes is Zimmer's newest pupil, getting an earful of instruction from the coach during the Vikings' first padded practice on Tuesday as his mother Erin snapped pictures behind the end zone. Waynes is learning in much the same manner as Xavier Rhodes did last year, with Zimmer paying particular attention to the rookie's movements and peppering Tuesday's practice with coaching points in staccato.

The learning curve for Waynes is even steeper, thanks to the Vikings' decision to continue the rookie's indoctrination at slot cornerback. It's possible the 6-foot-1 Waynes will never play there, but with Jabari Price suspended for the first two games of the year, it's equally possible the Vikings could need another corner who can step inside.

"There is a lot more that goes in there," Zimmer said. "But I still feel like the more things that we can give him to do, (it's) kind of what we like to do with a lot of young guys -- give them a lot of stuff to do, and if we have to, pare it down as opposed to saying, 'Well, he can’t do that,' and never knowing if they can. It would be good for his overall development of his game, just by understating things that happen inside as well."

The question of whether Waynes will supplant Captain Munnerlyn at slot cornerback has been raised a few times already during camp, but I wouldn't necessarily presume the Vikings are going to throw the rookie into a big role inside early in the season. Zimmer said Munnerlyn is "competing for a job," and added he has no problem starting rookies, even though the Vikings are giving more first-team work to veterans during the first week of camp. Still, it's a lot to ask a rookie to handle the slot cornerback spot from the beginning of the season.

Wherever Waynes ends up, he'll have plenty to digest from his first training camp. Zimmer will make sure of that.

"Trae’s done a nice job. I like him," Zimmer said. "I think he’s got a chance to be a good football player."