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Updated: September 5th, 2011 2:58pm
Notebook: Jamarca Sanford earns starting job at strong safety

Notebook: Jamarca Sanford earns starting job at strong safety

by Judd Zulgad and Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- After a competition that lasted the entire preseason, the Vikings have picked a starting strong safety.

Coach Leslie Frazier said Monday that Jamarca Sanford will start the regular-season opener on Sunday at San Diego. However, that doesn't mean Tyrell Johnson won't see the field.

Frazier said "we're going to end up rotating those guys," adding, "(Sanford will) take the first rotation and we'll let it play out from there."

Sanford and Johnson each started two games in the preseason. Johnson did not help his case in the preseason finale on Thursday night when he dropped what appeared to be a sure interception in the first quarter.

Sanford is the more inexperienced of the two, having started only three games since being a seventh-round choice of the Vikings in 2009. Johnson was a second-round pick in 2008, started seven games as a rookie in place of the injured Madieu Williams and then 17 games, including playoffs, the following season.

Johnson, however, lost his safety job to Husain Abdullah last season and ended up appearing in only seven games. Sanford is definitely the more aggressive of the two and that likely was one reason he earned the starting nod.

Brinkley returns

Linebacker Jasper Brinkley was back at Winter Park on Monday, walking with the assistance of crutches after having season-ending surgery to repair his right hip labrum. Brinkley also had a brace on the middle of his right thigh as he watched practice.

"It definitely needed to be done," said Brinkley, a backup middle linebacker who also was given a chance to compete for the starting job on the weakside. "It wasn't something that you could play through."

Brinkley went to Colorado early last week to have arthroscopic surgery, which was performed by Dr. Marc Philippon.

This might sound familiar given that wide receiver Sidney Rice underwent hip surgery in Colorado last year and also was a patient of Philippon's.

In that case, Rice had attempted to avoid surgery the entire offseason before he finally decided to undergo the procedure. Brinkley was injured last season but in this case he said he did not know anything was wrong until he arrived at training camp.

"It's one of those things that you don't know until the symptoms start arriving," Brinkley said. " ... It became clear something was wrong with me last week when it got to the point where I couldn't hardly run."

Brinkley, a fifth-round pick in 2009, has no idea when he initially suffered the injury. "That's the thing we're scratching our heads on," he said.

He always has been an aggressive player who loves to hit, but it was clear early in training camp that something was off.

Brinkley is confident he will be ready for the 2012 season, but he admits this is a bit tough to take.

"It's devastating to a point but at same time you have to be positive about situations like this," he said. "Things like this happen for a reason. Who knows what might happen in the future."

A cut in pay

Wide receiver Greg Camarillo might have made the 53-man roster in part because he was willing to take a paycut.

Originally due to make $1.7 million this season in the last year of his contract, Camarillo now will make a base salary of just under $1 million. That will help the Vikings clear more salary-cap space as they look to gain flexibility in that area.

"My salary was too high for the spot I was on the depth chart," said Camarillo, who was acquired last summer from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for cornerback Benny Sapp.

"You want to make as much money as possible. But at some point you've got to come to the realization as to what your value is and where you are on the depth chart. I've bounced around a number of teams and I hate doing so. I'm happy to be here."

Camarillo had 20 receptions for 240 yards and a touchdown last season after having 105 catches over the previous two years with Miami.

Reisner clears waivers

The Vikings revealed filled seven spots on their practice squad on Monday morning. They held the last until 3 p.m. Monday, when undrafted rookie tight end Allen Reisner cleared waivers.

Waived when the Vikings claimed linebacker Xavier Adibi from Houston, Reisner joined receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux, fullback Matt Asiata, receiver Stephen Burton, fullback Ryan D'Imperio, halfback Caleb King and defensive lineman Cedric McKinley on the practice squad.

The entire group was in camp with the Vikings and waived in Saturday's cuts.

Quick hits

• TE Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring), CB Chris Cook (hamstring), HB Lorenzo Booker (back), CB Asher Allen (toe) and HB Toby Gerhart (ankle/Achilles) all practiced and are expected to be available on Sunday if they progress as expected. The Vikings don't have to file an official injury report until Wednesday.

• CB Marcus Sherels is expected to open the season as the Vikings punt returner. Sherels, running back Lorenzo Booker and Camarillo all worked on punt returns after practice but it was Sherels who handled that role throughout much of the preseason.

• DT Letroy Guion said his "wind is up to par" and he has no concerns about taking on an expanded role while DT Kevin Williams serves a two-game suspension. "I really didn't pay attention to what was going to happen with Kevin," Guion said, "but I always prepare myself to be ready when the time comes."

• DE Jared Allen clowned his way through warm-ups wearing a helmet that didn't have a facemask. "I don't think anybody's ever gotten a concussion by just getting hit in the face," Allen joked. "So, just trying something new out, seeing if Coach would agree to it. He said I had to have a facemask.

• Offensive lineman Ryan Cook, who was released by the Vikings on Saturday, signed with the Miami Dolphins. Linebacker Heath Farwell, meanwhile, remains on the free-agent market but does have at least one trip scheduled.

• The Vikings had a light practice Monday and will be off Tuesday before starting preparations on Wednesday for the regular-season opener.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd