Snapshot look at the Vikings for Sunday's game

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 28, 2013 - 12:23 AM

With two starters injured and ruled out, Harrison Smith will be the undisputed strong link in the Vikings secondary.

Our snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Steelers in London:

Player in the spotlight

Harrison Smith, Vikings

The second-year safety got beat on Cleveland’s game-winning touchdown last week, but he has been one of the defense’s best playmakers. In three games, he has produced 26 tackles, two interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Smith faces another challenge this week against a Steelers team that ranks 10th in the NFL in passing offense. The Vikings have a depleted secondary, which puts even more pressure on Smith to be a steady presence.

Despite their health issues, Smith said he can’t overcompensate in trying to help backups who are pressed into action.

“You might think that [way] from the outside looking in, but you really can’t do that because then you’re going to compromise your job,” Smith said. “You’ve just got to trust the guys around you. We’ve got young guys, but they’re coming along and doing their job.”

Keep an eye on

Everson Griffen. NFL pundits — including Peter King — predicted a breakthrough season for the backup defensive end after he collected five sacks, one interception and 16 quarterback hurries in the Vikings’ final seven games last season.

So far, Griffen’s impact has been fairly limited. He has accounted for only six tackles, one quarterback hurry and one pass breakup while playing 61 percent of the defensive snaps.

“He’s trying as hard as he can,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “He just hasn’t been able to get those splash plays that we saw at the end of last season. He’s getting close. It just hasn’t quite clicked yet.”

Griffen gives the Vikings another pass rushing threat, especially in nickel situations when he slides over to tackle. He said he’s not discouraged by his lack of productivity.

“It’s going to come. I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I think I’m playing some good ball. I can play a lot better than what I am. But it’s eventually going to come like I want it to.”

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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