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Lunchbreak: PFF Highlights Harrison Smith's Versatility

Harrison Smith had a typical training camp, as the veteran safety was his usual steady self while flying under the radar at times.

And while Smith didn't play in the Vikings preseason opener, he could see action Saturday against the Colts.

But even if Smith doesn't play at all in the preseason, Diante Lee of analytics website Pro Football Focus wrote that Smith's flexibility will once again be a key piece of Minnesota's defense in 2021.

Lee recently highlighted the most adaptable defensive players in the league, and Smith led the way on Lee's list at the safety position.

He wrote:

Harrison Smith is as big as a star gets at the safety position. Just like [Seattle linebacker] Bobby Wagner, Smith has performed like an All-Pro from the day he put on an NFL uniform. 2020 was about as pedestrian as it gets for the veteran safety, with him earning just a 74.3 defensive grade, but here's what the data says about last year, and the rest of his NFL career: His five interceptions (on 26 targets, no less) in 2020 tied a career-high, his 74.1 passer rating allowed is the third-highest he's ever conceded (with six seasons below 60.0), he picked up four tackles for loss and 12 stops as a run defender and his 73 pressures and 12.5 career sacks rank second to only Jamal Adams. Offensive coordinators are trying to take the hint and put the ball wherever he isn't, but Smith is always sure to be in the neighborhood.

PFF tracked Smith's adaptability on the field, with Lee noting that he spent 55 percent of the time in the secondary at safety. PFF also charted that Smith was in the box 34 percent of the time and was in the slot 11 percent of the time.

Smith played 1,030 defensive snaps in 2020, the second-highest total of his career. He is a five-time Pro Bowler and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2017.

Mond tabbed on Sessler's 'underdog' list before 2nd preseason game

Hundreds of NFL players are competing to make a roster spot — and good impressions — as the preseason slate continues this weekend.

Marc Sessler of NFL.com recently highlighted 10 players across the league who need a strong showing, and included Vikings rookie quarterback Kellen Mond on his list.

Sessler wrote:

Lost among a flock of inspiring rookie-passer performances was an uneven outing by Minnesota's third-rounder. Mond showed ability with his legs in picking up 25 yards off five dashes against Denver but looked out of orbit after missing extensive practice time on the COVID-19 list. "He was OK," said a somewhat cranky Mike Zimmer. "I didn't like when he tried to shovel pass the ball to whoever … He used his legs a couple of times. He just has to get moving a little bit quicker. Everything is in slow motion with him, and he's going to have to improve that." We're not far removed from wondering if Mond could flat-out steal Kirk Cousins' job, but that remains a fanciful delusion for now.

Mond completed six of 16 passes for 53 yards against Denver, but had seemingly picked up the pace this week with strong practices earlier this week.

He led a successful 2-minute drive on Monday, and then stepped in and delivered in the clutch Tuesday in the red zone.

Mond played 46 of Minnesota's 66 offensive snaps Saturday against Denver. Jake Browning started the game and played 20 snaps.

Sessler's full list can be found here.

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