Andrew Sendejo to start over Mistral Raymond in place of injured Smith
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo will make his second career start on Monday when he fills in for the injured Harrison Smith.
Sendejo, 26, started in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers and split time with safety Mistral Raymond at the position when safety Jamarca Sanford was out. The coaching staff has apparently seen enough of the two as they'll exclusively start Sendejo on Monday and only revert back to Raymond if necessary.
Smith will miss at least Monday's game with a turf toe injury that will reportedly require surgery either during or after the season.
"[Sendejo] played quite a bit against Pittsburgh and he did some good things at safety," Coach Leslie Frazier said. "He did good enough to make us feel like he can do a good job in the starting role."
Raymond, 26, has fallen significantly since winning the starting job out of training camp last season. At that point, Sendejo had just made the 53-man roster over veteran Eric Frampton and has already climbed over Raymond in the pecking order just a year later.
Raymond has dealt with a bevy of injuries, including an AC sprain in his shoulder coming out of training camp. He lost the starting role alongside Smith last year to Sanford after dislocating his ankle against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. He's been inactive for four of five games this season.
"[Raymond] is back now, he's healthy," Frazier said. "But part of why he didn't play early on was the injuries coming out of training camp. He did a good job when we got him in the game against Pittsburgh when they rotated. We have confidence that if he has to play in this ballgame he would do a good job as well."
"But the injuries have kind of set him back every time he has kind of taken a step forward."
Whether it was dehydration issues or a pulled hamstring, Raymond has struggled to stay on the field since the Vikings selected him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. He's due around $555,000 in base salary on his four-year rookie deal that goes through 2014.
Sendejo signed his first big NFL contract in September, when the Vikings extended him three years for $2.6 million. A restricted free agent after last season, Sendejo signed a one-year deal in March before receiving his extension just two weeks into the regular season.
What Sendejo's start and contract extension mean for Raymond's future with the team remains to be seen.
Raymond was taking extra special teams snaps on Thursday, as it appears Sendejo will be pulled from certain units as he focuses on defense.
"All I know is I have to go out and practice today, put my best foot forward," Raymond said. "If and when Coach says it's time to step on the field, I'll be ready to play."