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Smith downplays concerns about his knee, but does not practice

Harrison Smith is not practicing today after cornerback Terence Newman hit him in the left knee during the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Packers. But he downplayed concerns about the severity of his injury.

“At this point in the year, everyone is banged up so I’m just trying to get ready for Sunday,” the safety said a couple of hours before practice.

Smith was injured on a fluky play. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried to make a quick spinning pass to wide receiver James Jones. But the ball slipped out of his hand and bounced toward Newman. Newman lunged for the ball in case it was a fumble and collided with Smith’s extended leg.

“Stuff happens. It’s part of the game,” Smith said.

Smith only sat out five snaps before returning to and finishing the game. He admitted he was initially concerned the injury could be significant.

Smith walked gingerly in the locker room. He said he felt worse on Monday.

“Even when you don’t get hurt, it’s worse on Mondays,” the 26-year-old safety said. “But winning helps, so we need to get back to that.”

Defensive end Everson Griffen (shoulder and hip) also sat out today’s practice. Safety Robert Blanton (ankle), defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (ankle) and left tackle Matt Kalil (toe) were limited.

Bridgewater confident that Wallace's big-play opportunities will come

Mike Wallace wasn’t going to win an NFL receiving title playing on a team built around Adrian Peterson, defense and favorable field position. But he was averaging 4.3 catches for 48.7 yards through his first six games.

And those six games included season highs in catches (eight), yards (83) and Wallace’s only touchdown in the Week 4 game at Denver. For those still keeping track of how the team does each week, the Vikings lost that game at Denver.

In the past four weeks, Wallace had two catches for 26 yards. He had no catches at Chicago, although Teddy Bridgewater did overthrow him after he got open behind the defense. He also had no catches against the Packers, although he did drop what would have been a first-down catch and had another deep ball overthrown to him.

Bridgewater was asked today for his thoughts on Wallace’s past four games.

“Mike, he’s a guy who works extremely hard and we’re very close [on connecting on passes],” Bridgewater said. “And like I continue to say, each week in this offense, different guys are going to have an opportunity to make plays for us. When Mike’s opportunity comes, I will be one of the happiest guys for him.

“He’s probably one of the hardest working guys on this team. He’s always staying back after practice catching balls on the Juggs machine. He’s doing the little things that allow him to be a great player. We know that we’ve just been missing. But those opportunities are there, so we just have to keep trying to capitalize.”

Bridgwater was asked if the problem could be the pass protection not allowing him to go deep as often as the team would like.

“Not at all,” he said. “We have different schemes, different play calls that allow us to … take shots down the field or be successful in the intermediate passes. Teams know this is a big-play offense. Sometimes, they play coverages that take away those deep threats and forces us to check the ball down.

“The guys understand that a different guy is going to get an opportunity to make a play each week.”

Zimmer also was asked today if he’s concerned about Wallace’s dramatically reduced production the past four games.

“Honestly, we want everybody to get involved,” Zimmer said. “I’m not going to worry about individual statistics or anything like that. I’m just going to worry about trying to get wins.”

Final, 11/22 1 2 3 4 F
Green Bay 7-3 6 10 3 11 30
Minnesota 7-3 6 0 7 0 13

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