Going into his 11th NFL season, Harrison Smith is just as motivated as he was as a rookie coming out of Notre Dame.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune recently caught up with the Vikings All-Pro safety, who said he only cares about one thing.
"Winning," Smith said. "That's what I'm chasing."
Scoggins said Smith leaned on social media criticism of his play in his early pro days. Now, Smith draws his motivation from other areas of his day-to-day life. Scoggins wrote:
Maybe it is an image in his mind of getting beat on a pass the previous day. Or listening to a
particular song. Occasionally, he'll concoct a slight directed at him, knowing it's a lie but still
allows him to "pretend to be mad about something."
"The more you play," Smith said, "the more you have to dig."
At age 33, Scoggins said Smith is aware that the longer he plays, the more the conversation steers toward a potential decline. Scoggins wrote that Smith lets his play on the field do the talking for him.
He has never been a big talker. He's always preferred action over words, which he traces to
his childhood when he was terrified to speak in front of groups.
"Sometimes I think words don't mean everything to me," Smith said.
Smith's play has grown over the years. Early on, he was like a heat-seeking missile, locking onto the ball and destroying opponents with hard-hitting tackles. Now, he relies more on his brain, confusing quarterbacks at the line of scrimmage.
Smith has become a master at disguising his intentions, creating uncertainty about whether he
will blitz or drop into coverage. He said different factors contribute to that deception, but his
intelligence, experience and overall versatility allow him to be used in that manner.
The Vikings have several new leaders on the coaching staff this season, including Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell. Scoggins said that Smith describes learning Donatell's scheme as "fun."
"The big thing is, yeah, I played 10 years before Ed got here," Smith said. "But what does he want out of the safeties and how can I adapt my game to fit into that?"
Sports Illustrated eyes 10 Vikings players to watch in preseason finale
The Vikings will wrap up the 2022 preseason at 8 p.m. (CT) on Saturday with a road matchup against the Denver Broncos. The game will also serve as the final opportunity for those fighting for a roster spot, with the Vikings going from 80 players to the final 53 on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
Will Ragatz of Sports Illustrated recently revealed 10 Vikings players to watch who are potentially “on the bubble.”
One offensive player Ragatz mentioned was wide receiver Jalen Nailor, who Ragatz tabs as the sixth and final spot at the position for Minnesota. He wrote:
The rookie out of Michigan State had a solid camp and carried that into preseason, with four catches for 33 yards… an impressive performance in this game would help Nailor hold off the three receivers who seem to be competing with him for that final spot.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ragatz listed both Blake Lynch and Troy Dye, two inside linebackers who could be battling for one spot along with Chazz Surratt. Ragatz wrote:
Dye has been further up the depth chart than Lynch throughout camp, even though he hasn't exactly been great. Despite being the better player of the two over the last two seasons, Lynch probably needs a solid game in Denver more than Dye does… Lynch could make a strong final push, and Surratt can't be completely written off just yet.