If you are a key member of the Minnesota Vikings, keep your head on a swivel. You could be the next man to go down.
Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Smith will miss Sunday’s game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars with a high ankle sprain and could be out for the remainder of the regular season.
A source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that no one on the team is officially ruling him out for the season because of the huge role he plays for the Vikings‘ defense. However, the same source described Smith’s injury as “really bad” and “severe” to Rapoport.
Per Tomasson, an MRI determined Smith suffered a Grade 3 sprain, the most severe and defined by a complete tear of the ligament. Smith could eventually need surgery.
Smith could put off surgery in hopes of a late-season return for a Vikings team clinging to playoff hopes at 6-6, two games back in the NFC North.
The heat-seeking missile keys coach Mike Zimmer’s defense with his ability to stuff the run, blitz the quarterback and cover in space.
Without Smith, the Vikings‘ defense becomes much more predictable. Even if he returns, a high ankle sprain — of any severity, let alone Grade 3 — will severely limit Smith’s mobility and effectiveness.
Put the playmaking defender on the list of Vikings‘ employees to be sidelined: Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, both starting offensive tackles, on and on. Heck, even Zimmer missed a game due to injury this year.
The Vikings might be able shut down a feeble Jacksonville offense sans Smith but slowing down Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers the following two weeks becomes exponentially more difficult without the star safety.