EAGAN, Minn. — Harrison Smith is back in Minnesota preparing for his 12th Vikings season after re-working his contract to help the team clear salary cap space.
The Purple remains the same, but the Vikings defense will be led by new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores and again feature new starters at multiple positions.
There will be time for Smith and Vikings defenders to drill deep into Flores' system, but right now the 34-year-old, six-time Pro Bowl safety is focusing on his fitness.
View photos of Vikings players arriving for offseason workouts at the TCO Performance Center.
"You don't want to get too far ahead of yourself. Start at the ground floor," Smith said. " 'How's your physical mobility, your strength, how's your speed and those things,' and focus on the fundamentals of that. 'What made you the athlete that got you to the NFL?' Maybe go back to some of those things, dumb it down a little bit and then get into the scheme or get into the real mental, acidic stuff that piles up throughout the year, so I think just starting with, 'Is my weight good? Can I move well? Am I ready for contact? Is my mind in a good place to kind of exchange some old information and bring in some new?'
"So it's kind of a reset and check the oil and stuff like that," Smith said.
He admitted he did consider kicking tires of other franchises but said he was interested in playing for Flores. Other factors surrounding the place that's become a second home to him since 2012 also played a part in his decision.
"I'd say Flo was a big reason. I wouldn't say it was one thing," Smith said. "You definitely have to appreciate what the Wilfs have done with the Vikings, the leadership they have and the investment they have in the franchise and the community and being part of the community.
"I kind of grew up here in a sense, so there's tangible things I've thought about and intangible things," Smith said. "They all kind of added up to I wanted to stay here and give it another crack. It's tough to quantify everything, right? You try to because it makes you feel good, that there's a right answer or wrong answer, but you don't always know. It felt right to stay."
One thing is for certain, Smith nailed his response when asked about his status in March via text by former Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson (who now covers the Broncos). Smith dutifully picked out a picture of Minnesota icon Prince to text back. Tomasson posted the pic in a tweet on March 13.
"Yeah, I think I texted that to our guy, CT, like I don't even remember," Smith said. "I don't know, 'Let's see what he does with this.' He didn't disappoint. Here we are."