Vikings’ New Safety Has Strong Message on Harrison Smith & Patrick Peterson

Xavier Woods

Getty Xavier Woods revealed his reason for joining the Minnesota Vikings.

Former Dallas Cowboys safety Xavier Woods had options in free agency, but one particular reason stood out to the 25-year-old safety to join the Minnesota Vikings.

Woods put pen to paper on a one-year deal with the Vikings on Monday, prompting his first press conference in Minnesota where he was asked about his familiarity with Vikings All-Pro safety Harrison Smith.

“Just as much as I was preparing for Minnesota’s offense, I was watching Harrison,” Woods said. “That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to come here — to be able to learn from him.”

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Woods Has Taken Interest Mike Zimmer and Patrick Peterson

Minnesota attempted to sign Woods to a minimum deal before the Vikings boosted their offer to a deal worth up to $2.25 million, per Chris Tomasson.

Woods recognized Minnesota’s willingness to meet his demands and didn’t stop acknowledging the opportunity he has ahead of him.

“These guys wanted me,” Woods said of the Vikings. “I talked to Coach [Mike Zimmer] and he told me I now have an opportunity to come and play and that’s all I can ask for. I told my agent ‘I wanted to be here, I wanted to opportunity to play with and learn from Harrison and Pat Pete’ and the Lord blessed me with that opportunity.”

Woods is looking to bounce back from a down season in 2020 where he struggled to make an impact in coverage. After tallying four interceptions and 14 passes defended as a starter from 2018-19, Woods did not pick off a pass and broke up just one pass in 2020 — partially due to a porous Cowboys run defense requiring him to play in the box more frequently.

“I reviewed it I now know what I have to work on to not play like that again,” Woods said. “I’m working each and every day to better myself so that doesn’t happen again. Me personnel I definitely had a bad season. Missed a lot of opportunities to get the ball back. Missed a couple interceptions.”

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Vikings Secondary Sees Biggest Investment This Offseason

The Vikings secondary was expected to see a drop-off in performance in 2020 when the team parted ways with all three of its starting corners in Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander.

Minnesota allowed the eighth-most passing yards last season and spent the offseason reinforcing the defense — especially the secondary.

Along with the acquisition of Woods and Patrick Peterson, the Vikings also brought back Alexander.

Minnesota should expect to see plenty of competition at the cornerback during training camp as second-year corners Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney look to keep their starting roles, while veterans like Kris Boyd and Mike Hughes look to remain in the fold.

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