The Minnesota Vikings aren’t wasting any time making 1st-round pick Harrison Smith a focal point of their defensive strategy. Said Leslie Frazier: “We’re counting on him to be the starter. That’s why we drafted him where we did.” Smith started at free safety on Friday and was impressive in his 28 snaps, recording two tackles and knocking down a pass.
It sounds as though the Vikings are relying on Smith more for his coverage skills than his ability to get into the backfield. According to Smith, “The coaches have kind of been saying, ‘If we call your number on a blitz and you don’t make a play, we’re probably not going to send you again.'”
That may be an oversimplification by Smith, but it makes sense. The Vikings secondary has struggled immensly in recent years, and in the NFC North they can use all the help they can get. While it’d be nice to get some pressure on Rodgers, Stafford and Cutler, Smith is probably most valuable dropping back in coverage in an effort to aid the Vikings somewhat suspect cornerbacks.
Ryan Tannehill completed less than 50 percent of his throws in his first career start for the Miami Dolphins, a disappointing stat line for a guy that local columnists are already comparing to Dan Marino.
On a positive note, however, Tannehill appears to still have a strong connection with his college teammate Jeff Fuller. Arguably Tannehill’s best throw of the night came on a 20-yard completion to Fuller which helped set up a Dolphins touchdown.
Ultimately Tannehill didn’t do enough to win the starting job tonight, but he probably didn’t do anything to lose it. This competition probably drags on for another week.
The Cleveland Browns have already settled on Brandon Weeden as their starter, but his preseason debut was less than impressive. Fortunately Game 2 went a little more smoothly. After the game Weededn stated “It was definitely an upgrade for me over last week. I just wanted to go out and get better, and I think I did that.”
While Weeden did improve, he still struggled under pressure. One play nearly lead to disaster for Weeden when the collapsing pocket forced him to fire a pass across the middle right into the arms of A.J. Hawk, who failed to corral the errant throw.
Overall, this was definitely a step in the right direction for Weeden, but by no means should Browns fans expect a Cam Newton or Andy Dalton like rookie season from their signal caller.
Dallas Cowboys 1st-round pick Morris Claiborne is finally healthy and ready to make his preseason debut on Saturday against the Chargers. Claiborne stated that he would be willing to play the entire game if coaches let him, but it’s likely the Cowboys will ease him into action.
Claiborne has battled injuries throughout the offseason (wrist and knee) and is just now completing his first full week of practice.
It’s never ideal to rely on a rookie, but the Cowboys need Claiborne to play a significant role in their secondary. As a result, his return to the field may be the best news the Cowboys have received in training camp thus far, giving him three full games to get up to speed.
Minnesota Vikings 4th-round pick Jarius Wright has impressed coaches with his football knowledge, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Receivers coach George Stewart stated that Wright’s route-running is still a work in progress, but he caught the attention of coaches with his ability to absorb the playbook and understand their various formations.
This is an encouraging sign for Wright, who many believed was a one-dimensional receiver and could do little except stretch the field. Wright’s speed will certainly be an asset, but it sounds as though he is putting in the time and effort to develop into a more well-rounded receiver.