Can the best get even better? Pay attention to 2015 Verizon Vikings Training Camp to find out because improving is the goal for S Harrison Smith. There aren't many safeties better than Smith in the entire League and the fourth-year pro is one of Mike Zimmer's best players on defense, but Smith is intent on improving in every area.
"There are a lot of things," Smith said when asked what part of his game he wants to improve. "Really things in every area. One, for example, would be becoming a better blitzer, getting better pressure on the quarterback when I get a chance to go.
"There are too many areas to list, but definitely a lot of things come to mind."
That he is so driven to improve is good news for Vikings fans and bad news for Vikings opponents. Last season, Smith led the team in tackles (120) and interceptions (5), and he was second among non-defensive linemen in sacks (3.0) and third on the team in passes defensed (9). If Smith can improve his game and, consequently, his statistics, the Vikings defense will be in good position to make another stride of improvement in 2015 after making huge strides in 2014.
"We have been hearing rumblings of how good we can be all offseason and that is something coach Zimmer addressed early," Smith explained. "I think we are all pretty grounded guys, hard-working guys. That's all we're focused on. Can't win the Super Bowl today. Can't make the playoffs today. Can't win the division today. You just get better each day at a time."
Adrian Peterson is known as the Vikings big goal-setter. But Smith has a penchant for goal-setting, too. Smith explained on Saturday, the day the Vikings moved into training camp, that he writes down goals every year and that while he doesn't always hit them they drive him to perform.
"A certain number of interceptions, number of tackles, always number one is playing in every game. If you can check that off, that's a good one right there. Just down the line, just stats and stuff, which doesn't necessarily win you games but I think it just keeps myself held to a higher standard."
Despite his profound contribution to the defense last season, Smith says he actually hit under half of his goals and that's because his goals can be "outrageous."
After listening to Smith speak on Saturday, the day before the team's first practice of camp, it's not outrageous to think he'll be an even better player in 2015 than he was in 2014.