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Vikings Newcomers Psyched to Team with Harrison Smith

EAGAN, Minn. – Aaron Jones is ready to share a sideline with Harrison Smith … and vice versa.

The two have been long-time opponents, playing against one another 11 times since the Packers drafted Jones in 2017.

"You know, I had to block him my rookie year," Jones recently laughed. "I remember him putting me on the turf, on my backside. I went to Coach [Mike McCarthy], 'Can we change the protection?' "

Little did Jones know, seven years later he'd sign with the Vikings in free agency – and Smith would restructure his contract to return for a 13th season with Minnesota.

"I'm happy to be here with him. Learn from him," Jones told media members last week. "Pick his brain, see how he's been able to play for so long and stay healthy."

Smith certainly has demonstrated impressive longevity since joining the Vikings as the 29th overall draft pick in 2012.

After inking his name to stay in Purple, Smith said physical health was never a factor in deciding whether or not he'd continue playing.

"I still felt good, could still move around and be a productive football player," he told

Smith credited "ultimately, the joy that football brings" him and his family, including wife Madison and two young children, for not yet hanging up the cleats.

What if someone had told him that night, after getting the call that Minnesota had traded back into the first round to draft him, that he'd one day be prepping for his 13th season?

"I probably wouldn't have believed you," Smith laughed.

"It's pretty special to be here," he added with a smile. "I definitely cherish that and don't take it for granted."

Smith has been looked up to throughout the entirety of his career, by peers all around the league – including three defensive free agents Minnesota added to the roster last week.

"Everybody knows about Harrison Smith," former Texans edge rusher Jonathan Greenard said. "I think it's amazing for a guy to do that and obviously know what's ahead of the team and put the team first and understand where he's trying to take them. […] You need that guy in the league, just so that way you can weather any storm and go talk to him about anything.

"I can't wait to meet him; can't wait to be alongside him," Greenard added. "I know he's a dog. He's a warrior."

View photos of Vikings S Harrison Smith from the 2023 season.

Andrew Van Ginkel, who previously played for the Dolphins, said it's clear how much respect everyone in Minnesota has for Smith.

"A guy that can stay in one organization that long, he's obviously doing something right," Van Ginkel said. "I'm looking forward to learning from him and instilling that into my game."

Then there's linebacker Blake Cashman, who was an underclassman at Eden Prairie High School when Smith was drafted out of Notre Dame.

Cashman said he's watched "a lot of plays" Smith has made over the years and views him as an outstanding person.

"And from what I hear, an outstanding man," Cashman added. "To share a locker room with him, it's gonna be great to learn from such a talented football player, a guy that plays the game the right way."

The 27-year-old noted that Smith's willingness to again restructure his deal to stay with the Vikings says something not only about his character but about the organization.

"We all want to be a part of this culture," Cashman said. "In order to be successful in this league, you've got to have a sense of camaraderie and accountability. And the Minnesota Vikings have that."

Smith couldn't agree more. It's the love of the game that's kept him on the field – and the people who have kept him in Minnesota.

"It's not just about myself," he said. "It's about people I've been around, and teammates I've had, support staff. Too many people to name, really.

"It's been an amazing ride," Smith added. "And I want to continue it."