Vikings safety Harrison Smith appears set to return from an ankle injury that sidelined him the past two games.
The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a contract extension with safety Harrison Smith on Monday morning, the team announced. Safety Harrison Smith, who left the Vikings’ locker room on crutches and with his left foot in a walking boot Thursday night, did not practice Tuesday. Linebacker Edmond Robinson also sat out, and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who has not practiced since Week 1, was a non-participant.
The addition of former Titans safety Michael Griffin could provide an answer at the position for 2016, but it remains to be seen if the Vikings have Smith’s long-term counterpart in the organization. It might not be the most critical spot to the Vikings’ defense, but it appears to be one of the final puzzle pieces as the Vikings try to craft an elite defense.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith’s review of Sunday night’s defensive performance against the 49ers was pretty simple. After Minnesota crashed back to earth in 2016, the cracks exposed in its foundation have yet to be sealed. The offensive line is still struggling. Quarterback Sam Bradford is still pushing to develop some of his young receivers in time. Smith knows that his star-studded defense is built to carry the weight, but after Sunday’s performance it seems there is still some work to do.
The Minnesota Vikings will be without center Joe Berger again on Sunday, and they’ll also have to play without safety Harrison Smith.
There’s little doubt the Vikings will miss Smith’s versatility, but defensive coordinator George Edwards said Thursday he expects the team will do similar things with Harris that it’s done with Smith. After the Vikings’ final walk-through Saturday, however, they downgraded Smith, who will not travel with the team to Atlanta.
The 2012 first-round pick made his first cheap Pro Bowl jerseys last season, a year after he tied for third in the NFL with five interceptions. Smith also had three sacks in 2014 and had established himself as one of the fixtures of Mike Zimmer’s defense.
The contract extension for safety Harrison Smith reveals faith in the Vikings’ draft strategy: Move up to get impact guys and then keep them around. Smith, who hasn’t played the Vikings’ last two games, was a full participant in practice on Friday after returning to the practice field in a limited fashion on Thursday. The Vikings listed him as questionable for the game at Lambeau Field, and it appears the team has a decent chance to get Smith back.
Harrison Smith got a big deal with the Vikings on Monday in part due to his agent’s familiarity with the Minnesota brass.
Smith’s deal seemed to have an air of inevitability about it for a year or two, but when Spielman told reporters in February that he expected a contract extension for the safety would be “coming down the pike” soon, “It sent a strong message to us that, ‘Let’s get going,'” Murphy said.
Otherwise, the Vikings would turn to Robert Blanton, who started most of last season next to Smith before losing his job to Andrew Sendejo. In any case, dealing with Jones, who leads the league with 89 catches, already figured to be a tough task. The absence of Smith — who tied for third in the league with five interceptions last season — could be a significant loss for the Vikings.
The big contract extension for Harrison Smith shows how serious the Vikings are about keeping their own. For all the defensive improvements the Minnesota Vikings have made under Mike Zimmer, they still seem in search of a solution at the safety spot next to Harrison Smith.
Smith didn’t participate in the Vikings’ workout on Tuesday, either, and a St. Paul Pioneer Press report said he could miss the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain. Asked about Smith’s status, though, coach Mike Zimmer said, “I know Harrison Smith is a pretty tough guy and he plays all the time. When he’s hurt, he plays. He always plays, so I don’t care about reports. I just go by what happens in practice.”