Vikings safety Harrison Smith won’t be suspended or fined for physical contact with an official in the second quarter of the Vikings’ 30-7 win over the Tennessee Titans.
Head coach Leslie Frazier said that, while the club doesn’t condone Smith’s behavior, the NFL told the team Smith won’t be fined or suspended.
The NFL confirmed that message, saying that Ray Anderson, executive vice president of football operations, determined that Smith's ejection early in the second quarter was sufficient punishment. He missed about two-thirds of the game. If he was fined, he likely would have faced a fine of $26,250 for physical contact with an official.
Smith was ejected from the game for contacting an official after back judge Steve Freeman backed Smith away from a pile of players following an Antoine Winfield interception.
“Right after it happened, I realized I put my hands on the official,” Smith said after the game. “You just can’t do it, period. So, I apologize to him. I apologize to my coaches, to my teammates, to the fans. It’s just unacceptable.”
“It’s not smart football,” Frazier said Monday. “We've got to be able to handle our emotions when things get awry, and he knows that. He and I have talked about it, and going forward we’ve got to do a better job across the board when moments like that occur, being able to walk away from the situation and not cost our team a penalty or a potential dismissal from a game.”
Smith has already been levied a fine in excess of $20,000 this year. He was fined $21,000 for an Aug. 24 preseason hit on San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie when he “unnecessarily struck a defenseless player in the head and neck area with his shoulder,” according to a league spokesman.
As a rookie, Smith is only making a base salary of $390,000 this year, but as a first-round pick he also received a signing bonus of $3,631,672.
Vikings fans might not want to get too excited about the team putting up 30 points against the Tennessee Titans. It was the fifth straight game the Titans have yielded 30 or more points, only the second time in NFL history that a team has allowed that in the first five games of the season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The first was in 1954 with the Chicago Cardinals, who finished 2-10.
Last week, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier admitted that the team began preparing almost exclusively for veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck after coaches watched the hit starter Jake Locker took from the Houston Texans the previous week. Locker injured his non-throwing shoulder, but the Titans didn’t officially rule him out until Friday.
This week, they face another team, the Washington Redskins, whose starter was injured. Rookie Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion Sunday, leaving his status in doubt for the Vikings game on Oct. 14. However, the Redskins have a rookie as their backup, as well – Kirk Cousins.
Griffin threw an 88-yard touchdown pass in the season opener, but Cousins, making his NFL debut Sunday in relief of Griffin, threw a 77-yard touchdown to Santana Moss. Griffin and Cousins became the first rookie teammates with TD passes of 75 yards or longer in the same season since Johnny Clement and Ray Mallouf of the Chicago Cardinals in 1941, according to Elias.
LUCK OVER THE PACKERS
Another rookie quarterback is having quite the season already, too. Andrew Luck and his Indianapolis Colts handed the Vikings their first loss of the season, and Luck pulled off an even more improbable win Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. The Colts trailed 21-3 at the half, but Luck rallied them to a 30-27 win. Since 1960, only three other starting rookie quarterbacks led their team to a victory after trailing by 18 or more points, according to Elias. They were John Elway (Broncos vs. Colts in 1983), Vince Young (Titans vs. Giants in 2006) and Matthew Stafford (Lions vs. Browns in 2009).
Frazier said he expects LB Marvin Mitchell and S Andrew Sendejo back at practice this week after they both were inactive for Sunday’s game because of injuries. Sendejo has been inactive for three of first five games. Mitchell suffered a calf injury in practice last week and Sendejo has been battling an ankle injury for most of the season.
The outlook for Jerome Simpson (lower leg) isn’t as certain. Frazier said he doesn’t think Simpson’s condition – he woke up with a tightness and weakness near the ankle area on Sunday – will cause him to miss the rest of the season, but he said nothing is conclusive until Simpson undergoes further testing.
Frazier said Christian Ponder, who played through a knee injury, is fine and moved around well in the game.
Jasper Brinkley is expected to remain the middle linebacker in the nickel defense for the foreseeable future. Erin Henderson had that role to start the season, but Brinkley has played well since Henderson suffered a concussion in Week 2. Henderson returned Sunday after missing two games and played in the base defense.
RB Adrian Peterson is expected to play against the Washington Redskins after suffering a mild left ankle sprain early against the Titans. Peterson played through the injury and had 88 yards rushing on 17 carries.
“(He) had a very good football game for us, running with such authority, able to break tackles like he did throughout the game, even though he was a little bit hobbled with that ankle,” Frazier said. “We don’t think there is anything that will keep him from playing this next ball game. He should be fine going forward.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.