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Harrison Smith Chats with Paul Allen: Takeaways, Taking Flight & Taking on Eagles

Harrison Smith didn't care much for the Vikings bye week. 

Speaking with "The Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on the *9 to Noon* show on KFAN 100.3-FM on Tuesday morning, the Minnesota safety said he would have much rather preferred to play last Sunday.

"Everybody says it's good to have a bye and to heal up and everything," Smith said. "But I think most of the guys on our team were anxious to be playing and missed being out there on Sunday.

"We're ready to get back at it and get back into our routine," he added.

The former first-round pick leads the Vikings with 40 total tackles through five games and has added a sack and a fumble recovery.

Smith said a key to the Vikings unblemished start is their league-leading turnover ratio of plus-11.

"We could be better, so we're going to try to keep that going this week," Smith said. "That can definitely change the outcome of ball games … when you get a couple of takeaways and take care of the football like our offense and special teams have been doing."

Smith's partner at safety, Andrew Sendejo, has helped with turnovers. Sendejo has an interception and a pair of fumble recoveries this season.

Smith said Sendejo's steady play goes beyond the flashy highlights.

"He's been a playmaker ever since I've been around him, whether it's on special teams or on defense," Smith said. "He tackles great and he's always in the right spot. Now he's just getting his hands on more and more footballs.

"If you have one pick and a couple of recoveries, that's only three plays out of maybe 500 that we've had this year," he added. "People don't see the other 497 of them; they see the splash plays. That's what he's been doing for a long time, and he's just continued to do that."

Smith also praised his position coach, Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, for the wisdom and intelligence he brings to the group. Smith, who made his first Pro Bowl in 2015, said Gray is almost like an extra player on the sideline during games.

"My favorite thing about Jerry is his recognition and understanding of how teams are going to attack you on certain down and distances or situations in the ball game," Smith said of Gray, who played in the NFL from 1985 to 1993 and had 28 career interceptions. "He was an incredible player in his day … four-time Pro Bowler, All-Pro, Pro Bowl MVP … he's got that experience but tons of years of coaching as well.

"On game day, I'm always asking Jerry what they're going to run in this situation or what he sees out of these formations," he added. "He always helps me out and is always giving the whole defense, and especially the secondary, just tips at what to look at and staying in our ear."

Allen also asked the safety about being featured recently in Sports Illustrated. Writer Ben Baskin accompanied Smith, a licensed pilot, in the air for a flight. 

Smith said he doesn't fly much during the season and narrows his focus on football, but made an exception for the writer.

"During the football season, there's just too much going on (with) game-planning and getting your body right," Smith said. "I don't need to throw one more thing into my weekly schedule.

"Tuesday is normally a time for recovery and get some more film in and get ready for the next opponent," he added.

Smith's focus this week is on the Eagles and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Wentz has lead Philadelphia to a 3-2 record and has thrown for 1,186 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception.

"He's got pretty much everything you'd want out of a quarterback, especially a young guy," Smith said. "He's got a great arm, makes good decisions, he's athletic and can run.

"You can tell he's got some confidence and some poise to him, which is something you can't coach and just kind of have to have," he added. "Just watching him, you can see how he conducts himself. He's definitely a very good player."

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