Harrison Smith (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY)
Harrison Smith can’t play again until the final three games of the season, but he has one final hurdle to clear in the coming days before he returns to practice next week. Plus, Greg Jennings says he is ready to face the Packers, but others may not be so fortunate with their injuries.
Harrison Smith is planning to start his comeback from a serious case of turf toe next week in earnest.
Smith has been making progress since the Vikings placed him on injured reserve/designated to return on Oct. 18. The timing of that move means that Smith can’t start playing until the team’s Dec. 15 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he can start practicing again with the team next week, which he intends to do.
“I’ve gotten on the field and moved around and it feels pretty good,” Smith said.
“It’s amazing how out of shape you can get in a few weeks. So I’m just getting my cardio back up and making sure that I can make all the movements I need.”
Surgery was a possibility to cure the turf toe, but the recovery time on that would have been about four months and ended any possibility of him returning. With each passing week, surgery has become much less likely and the only thing standing between him and practicing next week is an MRI that is expected to be performed in the coming days.
He has begun to run on it in small doses.
“I’ve been increasing that, not trying to wear it out too much,” Smith said. “It gets fatigued quick, so just kind of taking steps with it.”
“I’ve been trying to do a lot of different things anyway just to get my heart rate up, basically. I’m in the weight room a lot.”
Asked if there was any part of him that considered shutting it down for the season because of the injury and the team’s 2-8 record, he issued a quick and succinct “no.”
Smith was injured Oct. 13 against the Carolina Panthers, yet still remains sixth on the team’s tackles list with 41 and is still tied for the team lead with two interceptions, adding a forced fumble and fumble recovery – all in the span of less than five full games.
“We’ve taken a lot of hits, not only in the secondary but all across the team this year,” Smith said. “But that’s not an excuse for where we’re at. That’s part of the game that happens to every team. So it’s just sometimes you get bad luck. Sometimes you kind of get away with things.”
While the team works on preparing for the division rival Green Bay Packers this week, Smith is working to get his stamina back, something that he doesn’t believe can be accurately gauged until he is back in game situations.
“I know it’s better than it was last week,” he said. “Even when we come in for training camp, you can be in the best shape you think you can be in and it’s still not football shape.”
JENNINGS: ‘I’M GOING’
WR Greg Jennings returned to practice on at least a limited basis Thursday after missing Sunday’s game and Wednesday’s practice with an Achilles tendon injury. He left little doubt that he will play against his former team.
“Oh, I’m going. Unless the Lord does something different, has a different game plan, and he delays this coming, I will be in Lambeau dressed and ready to go,” Jennings said.
The biggest availability concern might be LB Erin Henderson, who has missed the last two practices for personal reasons. Leslie Frazier wasn’t sure if Henderson would be available on Sunday.
If he can’t play, Audie Cole would get the start in his place. Rookie Michael Mauti would have been a consideration, but he hurt his surgically repaired knee during last Sunday’s Seattle game and was limited Wednesday and Thursday.
Center John Sullivan (concussion) hasn’t practiced the last two days, but Frazier was holding out hope that he might pass his post-concussion tests and practice Friday.
TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) and CB Josh Robinson (sternum) are expected to be out for at least a few more weeks.
WR Greg Childs practiced Wednesday for the first time since 2012 training camp, when he tore both patellar tendons, but he was held out Thursday after experiencing soreness.
“He was a little sore from yesterday’s work, so we held him back today. So it will probably be like that as we’re bringing him back, just some days it will be better than others,” Frazier said. “But it was good to see him out here yesterday. The guys were pretty pumped up to see him participate. It was good.”
In addition to Jennings, TE Rhett Ellison (ankle), DT Fred Evans (knee/shoulder), DT Letroy Guion (chest), Mauti (knee), DE Jared Allen (back) and Robison were limited.
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.