A safety is the last line of defense; they cover the pass and stop the run. In the years the Minnesota Vikings have had strong defenses, they have had one or two good players at the position. Here are the best eight safeties in franchise history:
8) Darren Sharper: Named to two Pro Bowls in his four years with the team from 2005-2008, Sharper picked off 18 balls, returning 3 for scores. He broke up 38 passes, recovered three fumbles, and forced two.
7) Tommy Hannon: A hard hitter who played in 117 games and started 103 in his eight year career from 1977-1984, Hannon ranks tenth in team history with 11 fumble recoveries. He also intercepted 15 passes and returned one for a touchdown.
6) Orlando Thomas: Fourth in team history with 65 passes defensed, in his seven year Viking career Thomas intercepted 22 passes, returning two for touchdowns. He also forced six fumbles and recovered 10 while playing in 98 games, starting 87, from 1995-2001.
5) Jeff Wright: Wright was a solid player and part of the team's top defenses during a seven year career from 1971-1977, playing in 83 games and starting 54. He intercepted 12 passes and recovered 9 fumbles.
4) Robert Griffith: Named to one Pro Bowl in his eight years with the team from 1994-2001, Griffith played in 119 games, starting 88 for winning Viking teams in the mid to late 1990's. He picked off 17 passes, forced seven fumbles, recovered two, recorded 7.5 QB sacks, and is seventh in team history with 56 passes defensed.
3) Karl Kassulke: A key player on the team's outstanding defenses in the late '60's and early '70's, Kassulke played in 131 games at safety from 1963-1972, starting 121, intercepting 19 passes. Selected to one Pro Bowl, he had 9 fumble recoveries and his 8 sacks are second among defensive backs.
2) Joey Browner: Selected to the Pro Bowl as a safety six times in his nine seasons from 1983-1991, Browner played in 145 games, starting 117. He is fifth in forced fumbles with 18, fifth in fumble recoveries with 17, fourth in interceptions with 37, and third in passes defensed with 76. He also recorded 9.5 QB sacks, first among Viking defensive backs, and scored 4 touchdowns.
1) Paul Krause: The NFL's record holder for interceptions with 81, Krause is the Vikings leader in that category with 53 picks, returning two of those for touchdowns. He also recovered 11 fumbles, bringing back two for scores, and knocked down 54 passes, ninth in team history. In 12 years with the team from 1968-1979 he played in 172 games, starting 146, and was selected to six Pro Bowls. Krause was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
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