Notre Dame rookie duo vies for time in Vikings secondary

A pair of rookies out of Notre Dame were on the Minnesota Vikings' first unit at safety, and could be starting for the team Sept. 9, when its 2012 season begins.

During the team session Friday morning, 29th overall pick Harrison Smith and pick No. 139 Robert Blanton will compete for starting spots in the Vikings' secondary, according to The Star Tribune.

“If you take a look at where we ended the season at the safety position, it’s open competition,” head coach Leslie Frazier said.

Considering where the Vikings took Smith in the draft, he has an inside track on a starting spot. Blanton could crack the starting lineup if he can outplay Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond, the duo that started together for the final five games of 2011.

Another rookie may also have an opportunity to see the field next season: Josh Robinson, the fastest man at this year's combine (40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds).

"I was watching the guys return punts this morning," Frazier said. "We still have the cheat sheets where we're looking at guys' numbers. Josh caught a punt and he just took off like a guy shot out of a rocket. I said, 'Man, that guy's got a nice little burst. See who that is.'"

Robinson might even be faster than his time indicated.

"I've run faster hand-timed 40s before," he said.

Robinson, the team's third-round pick in the draft, will compete for the punt return job and might be given a chance to compete at kick returner. The Central Florida product needs polish at cornerback, but Frazier isn't ruling anything out this year.

"We'll keep throwing things at him and watch him compete for a job," Frazier said. "Not just the nickel position. We want him to compete for a starting job."