Start at safety, interception shine light on Kurt Coleman for a night
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MINNEAPOLIS - Harrison Smith is locked in as a starter at safety. The other safety spot appears up for grabs, and Kurt Coleman stated his case Friday.
Coleman wasn't listed as a starting safety on the Vikings' unofficial depth chart, which was released Tuesday. But he started Friday with Smith and he has separated himself from the other safeties in the group simply by staying healthy. Coleman deflected a pass and intercepted rookie Derek Carr to halt a Raiders drive.
"Kurt's done a good job," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "He's a veteran guy. Been a good special teams player in the league. He doesn't make the same mistake twice. Works real hard, studies real hard, asks good questions. He's done a very nice job."
Andrew Sendejo (back/ankle), Robert Blanton (hamstring) and Jamarca Sanford (back spasms) were not in pads Friday. Mistral Raymond left the game with a head injury. The Vikings signed veteran Chris Crocker off the street to help address the depth issue at the position, so it seems outwardly that the position is wide open.
"The name of the game is the health. You can't make the club in the tub, that's what they say," Coleman said. "I try to put myself in a great amount of shape going into training camp so that when I'm in training camp, nothing happens. ... I've been blessed to be healthy so far, and it's helped out because I've gotten a lot of reps and understood what coach Zimmer wants me to do throughout our calls."
He said he had four different defensive coordinators while he was with the Philadelphia Eagles, so learning a fifth scheme should be a snap.
"Nothing ever goes according to plan but I think I've been able to adjust well," he said.
"I have a vast knowledge of the game of football on the defensive side."
Coleman described the interception as being in the "right place at the right time," but he made a good read on the play and got his arms under it before it could hit the ground.
"It was a boot, so I was sitting back, there was a crosser coming from the opposite side, but also I was reading when the guy to the flat delayed to the flat. So once I saw him getting ready to throw the ball I broke on it. And it was a high throw, and typically -- he's a young QB, so he'll learn, you've got to get the ball low so if [the receiver] drops it, it goes to the ground. If you throw it high, he tips it, that's what happens. I was just in the right position at the right time. It was a good rush by the teammates."