Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Harrison Smith: Serious looking injury was only cramping

Posted by: under Vikings, Packers Updated: January 8, 2013 - 8:56 AM

Just a little more than 3 minutes remained in the third quarter Saturday night at Lambeau Field when Vikings safety Harrison Smith delivered a tackle on Packers running back DuJuan Harris and immediately began writhing in agony. The Vikings already trailed 24-3 in their one-sided first-round playoff loss. And the last thing they needed was to see one of their key starters lost to a serious injury.

Not to worry: Smith was only cramping.

While his pain seemed to be severe – so much so that concerned Packers players immediately began calling for the Vikings medical staff to come over – Smith just needed the cramp in his left leg to be worked out.

“I just couldn’t really feel anything going on,” Smith said.

Vikings athletic trainer Eric Sugarman assisted with the injury on a table behind the bench. And Smith returned to action not long after, unaware initially at how much worry he had caused coaches, teammates and an already frustrated fan base.

“I watched the tape,” Smith said. “And I could see that I kind of squirmed a little bit. I didn’t know that I really did that. Our coaches were like, ‘Don’t do that anymore.’”

Smith’s emergence this season was one of the most significant bright spots for a Vikings team that improved from 3-13 to 10-6. The rookie was a playmaker all season and had two interception returns for touchdowns. On Monday, as he cleaned out his locker to head into the offseason, Smith was asked whether he ever ran into the proverbial “rookie wall.”

“I think I kind of kept thinking that I have got to get through the regular season,” Smith said. “I’ve got to make sure my body’s all right, that I can last. That was hard. And then the playoffs come around. And it’s like, ‘Wow, we have another possible however many games.’ So staying on top of your body and getting back and staying on top of your mind, mentally energizing every week is a lot harder to do than you think it would be.”

As for Smith’s thoughts on what propelled the Vikings to such a remarkable turnaround, the rookie noted the close team bond as a major catalyst.

“Every guy on this team is a guy you want to play with and guys you have fun playing with and can count on. That’s the thing that stood out to me. I mean, this is my first time around. But it seems like with the guys we have here and the leadership we have with the coaches and the front office that things are headed in the right direction.”

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Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
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Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
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Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 73 4th Qtr 5:51
LA Lakers 84
Denver 53 3rd Qtr
Golden State 65
Portland 65 3rd Qtr 6:37
LA Clippers 55
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
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Anaheim 3
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
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Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
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California 28
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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