Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith said Saturday that COVID-19 screening may have saved his life.
Smith, a 2019 fifth-round draft pick out of USC, said he’ll need open heart surgery to address a condition discovered after he tested positive and underwent additional cardiac screening. He was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on July 29 and will not play this season.
“Earlier this week, I found out I need open heart surgery to fix a bicuspid aortic valve that I was born with,” Smith posted on his Instagram account. “Although this will unfortunately end my 2020 season, it is really a blessing that we found this as my heart is severely enlarged and wouldn’t have lasted much longer.”
Smith, a four-year starter at inside linebacker for Southern California, said he intends to continue his NFL career. He appeared in five games as a rookie for the Vikings, playing mostly special teams.
“There is a surgery that will allow me to continue to play football as soon as I am healed,” Smith wrote. “I didn’t think twice about going with that one. By no means am I ready to be done playing football. There is still so much more I want to accomplish on the field. I’m going to attack this like everything else I have in life. Already looking forward to the comeback!”
The Vikings added linebacker help Saturday, signing Quentin Poling, who was released by the Raiders in May.
Poling, a seventh-round pick by the Dolphins in 2018, was on the Raiders active roster for one game last season.
He also spent time on the Falcons practice squad between two separate stints with the Raiders.
The 25-year-old provides the Vikings with linebacking depth with Ben Gedeon on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Poling’s social media posts, detailing his unsuccessful attempts to get a coronavirus test in his home state of Ohio after he returned from a trip to Spain with enough symptoms to make his doctor think he had the virus, attracted attention in March when he became one of the first NFL players to say he might have the virus.
Poling followed up a day later, saying he and his family were able to get a COVID-19 test.
Running back waived
The Vikings waived running back Tony Brooks-James. He was an undrafted free agent out of Oregon in 2019 and appeared on four NFL rosters last season.
Staff writer Ben Goessling contributed to this report.