Vikings Sign Safety — Competition for Lewis Cine?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings made another move on Thursday, signing safety Jake Gervase. To make room for him, the Vikings waived WR N’Keal Harry, the former Patriots first-round pick who lasted a couple of weeks in Minnesota. He made some great grabs in practice and caught a nice pass in the preseason but was sidelined with an injury in the second game, and it perhaps sealed his fate.

Vikings Sign Safety — Competition for Lewis Cine?

Vikings Sign Safety — Competition for Lewis Cine?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another safety in an already full safety room with six (now seven) players rostered, why did the Vikings do that? To figure that out, it is important to know Gervase’s story. The safety is a four-year veteran, so he brings some experience to the team.

However, he has not made his living on defense but on special teams. When he came out of Iowa, the Los Angeles Rams signed the undrafted rookie, who was an undersized linebacker at that point at 6’1″ and 210 lbs.

Gervase appeared in 19 games for the Rams throughout his four-year career, playing 375 snaps on special teams, 13 on defense, and one on offense, where he caught a pass for 12 yards.

His time with the Rams overlapped with the tenure of two important Vikings coaches. Kevin O’Connell was offensive coordinator for two seasons under Sean McVay, and special teams coordinator Matt Daniels was an assistant special teams coach, so Daniels knows Gervase and his skills as a special teamer.

Lewis Cine Pitched a Shutout vs. Lions. And Not in a Good Way.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

An undrafted guy who has solely been useful on special teams is not a threat to keep Lewis Cine off the team or the field. The second-year player famously missed most of his rookie campaign because of a gruesome leg injury. It was tough to get back in football shape, but he is flying around on the practice field and played most of the two preseason contests, showing some struggles but also potential and growth in the second game.

Cine is a backup, probably the fourth safety, but he is still a talented player with remarkable athletic tools and is a bet for the future. He suffered a soft-tissue injury on Monday and is on track to miss the final preseason game, leaving Jay Ward and Theo Jackson as the only available safeties if the team doesn’t want to play Josh Metellus, Camryn Bynum, or Harrison Smith, and they most certainly don’t intend to have them active.

That is where Gervase comes into the picture as a depth safety to take some reps on Saturday on defense and the special teams’ group so the top three guys can rest and keep themselves ready for the season opener while Cine can recover without having to risk a more serious injury before he’s back to 100%.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Racey McMath (13) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Jay Ward (20) and cornerback Kalon Barnes (27) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.

The position is interesting as Smith, Bynum, Metellus, and Cine have their roster spots secured, but the team likes Ward and Jackson. Last season, the Vikings only kept four safeties on the roster. Jackson was a 2022 sixth-round pick for the Tennessee Titans, but he failed to make their team and was signed to the practice squad. The Vikings stole him from there after Cine went down. The Titans were unhappy with that move as they also saw some potential.

Ward was a fourth-round pick from the current regime, so he should make the team, but it remains to be seen who Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will keep and who can’t make it. Gervase is a long shot to be more than a camp body to take some reps on Saturday, but if he can stick around, it would be as a special teams player.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt