The news that Minnesota Vikings' safety Harrison Smith will be sitting out Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons is the sort of news that no Vikings' fan wants to hear. On the bright side. . .so much as there is one. . .it appears that it has opened up an opportunity for someone that some Vikings fans have been wanting to see get more time.
Numerous sources, led by ESPN's Ben Goessling and Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, are reporting that Antone Exum will be getting his first NFL start at safety on Sunday in Smith's place.
Exum, a sixth-round pick of the Vikings out of Virginia Tech in 2014, played both cornerback and safety in college, but the Vikings brought him in with the intention of playing him at safety. He hasn't seen many defensive snaps over the past season and a half, but the coaching staff must think that, with Smith out, he gives the Vikings a better coverage option that Robert Blanton.
Andrew Sendejo will continue to start at the other safety spot, but he's much better at run support than he is in coverage. With Exum's size and experience at cornerback, hopefully he'll be able to at least do some of the things that Harrison Smith is asked to do. If he has a good showing, it wouldn't be entirely surprising to see him replace Sendejo when Smith returns.
But, he has to get off to a good start, and that begins tomorrow at the Georgia Dome against the Falcons.