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Lunchbreak: Harrison Smith Might Be Vikings Most Versatile Player



EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Whether it's deep in the secondary, near the line of scrimmage or near a traditional linebacker spot, you never know where Harrison Smith will line up.

The Vikings safety has made plays all over the field for a Minnesota defense this season that ranks second in both points allowed (17.3) and yards allowed per game (283.9).

Matthew Coller of took a look at Smith's flexibility and noted although he wasn't voted into the Pro Bowl earlier this week, the safety might be the most versatile player on the Vikings.

Coller wrote:

Strangely, Smith was left off the Pro Bowl roster, which was announced on Tuesday, despite being rated No. 1 at his position in the NFL by the analytics website Pro Football Focus.

One of the keys to Smith's game is being able to line up in different places and adjust prior to the snap. Especially less experienced opposing quarterbacks – even good ones like Jared Goff – have struggled with making quick reads against Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer's defense.

"The read for them is a little bit slower usually," Zimmer said, explaining the impact of moving Smith around. "So when [the quarterbacks] start to drop back and they are looking at the one safety, and he moves to another spot, then they have to change where the coverage is being dictated to throw the ball."

Smith has 81 total tackles (according to coaches' tally) with nine tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a team-high three interceptions.

Smith has lined up at deep safety, nickel corner, linebacker and even outside corner a handful of times this year.

"We try not to give them a pre-snap read," Zimmer said. "Sendejo and Harrison are good at being able to show something and play something else."

Smith had an interception and 1.5 sacks against Green Bay earlier this season.

Keenum garners MVP votes in ESPN poll

Case Keenum is 9-3 as a starter this season and helped the Vikings to a 10th win by entering Minnesota's Week 5 game in Chicago just before halftime.

The quarterback's impact on the Vikings has been profound, so much so that Keenum is garnering votes for the league's Most Valuable Player.

Dan Graziano of ESPN recently polled 12 experts from the company, with Keenum placing fifth with 14 total points. First-place votes are worth five points, second-place votes worth four, third-place votes worth three, fourth-place votes worth two and fifth-place votes worth one.

Graziano wrote:

Right behind [Deshaun] Watson and [Carson] Wentz on that season Total QBR list is Keenum, the Vikings' third-stringer-turned-savior. Minnesota is 11-3 and still has some degree of hope to lock up home-field advantage all the way through the playoffs, including the Super Bowl, which will be played in its home stadium. Keenum has managed not only to steer the ship, but to do so deftly enough that Teddy Bridgewater's return to the field last week was a feel-good garbage-time story and no threat to Keenum's job security.

Keenum has thrown for 3,219 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.

He has a passer rating of 98.9, and his Total QBR (an ESPN stat) is 73.3.

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