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Updated: June 22nd, 2013 6:03pm
Vikings' Jamarca Sanford facing plenty of competition at strong safety

Vikings' Jamarca Sanford facing plenty of competition at strong safety

by Andrew Krammer
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - The Minnesota Vikings have opened the last three seasons with three different strong safeties and the trend could continue in 2013.

The candidate carousel includes incumbent Jamarca Sanford, coming off of his best season, last year's initial starter Mistral Raymond, who is relatively healthy and second-year Robert Blanton, who is confident he can make it four safeties in four years.

"I still have to worry about it," Sanford said. "It's still a competition. But I don't look at the past; all I can do is look to the future."

Sanford, 27, has received first-team reps all offseason, but didn't gain the starting role back until Raymond was sidelined for six weeks last season with a dislocated ankle he suffered against San Francisco in Week 3. Sanford started 15 games in 2011.

Pegged to start in his second NFL season, Raymond battled dehydration, injury and struggled to stay on the field last year.

Raymond, 25, sat out minicamp on Wednesday and Thursday to rest his sore hamstring, but claimed he's cleaned up the problems that have plagued him.

"Those are some things I've had trouble with in the past, but it's something I've cleaned up," Raymond said. "Things like [dehydration], I've had to evaluate myself and understand myself a little bit more; won't be an issue moving forward."

Sanford is one of 11 free agents this offseason the Vikings resigned when he added two years to his deal in March after his best campaign in 2012, which included a team-high four forced fumbles and another six quarterback pressures -- the most in the secondary.

Despite Sanford's production, the Vikings could use a little more from the second safety spot, which compiled zero interceptions between Sanford and Raymond.

The pair appeared to struggle in coverage overall, allowing opposing quarterbacks to covert three of every five passes (21-of-35) for five touchdowns and a 127.9 average QB rating.

That's where Blanton, in his second year out of Notre Dame, said he hopes to complicate the situation.

"It's definitely a strength of mine to have good eyes, see things well out there," Blanton said. "I'm not far off at all [from starting]."

Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for 1500ESPN.com. He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer
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