By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One veteran Minnesota Viking had seen it all, until this interrupted season. But he’s dialed in to approach this season as another season. Maybe that’s why Harrison Smith has played at such a high level.

It goes quickly. Seems like he just arrived. Smith and Matt Kalil were the first-round picks. Smith has stayed, but most that were here are gone. So he finds himself surrounded by some youth in a re-tweaked defense. New faces are part of the game.

“That’s just the reality of the NFL, of football,” Smith said. “That’s how it is most places, every single year. You know, in Minnesota, specifically on defense, we’ve had a lot of guys play a lot of season together.”

So the quiet leader plans to keep leading this way, by making plays. That’s why he is a wealthy safety. That’s why the Pro Bowl is a given, and why he is a foundation piece of a defense that still features veterans.

“You try to teach a little bit more, you realize areas that you need to get better at. And I think everyone’s hungry, and that’s what it’s about,” Smith said.

What he has done is not just splash, but sustain. That comes from a constant hunger and an insecurity to understand.

“I can’t just show up and be like, ‘Boom, I’m here, everything’s cool, like, I’m just gonna roll it out and I’ll be good,'” Smith said. “I still have to start from square one myself.”

This season, the key might be the transition to young corners and some new coaches, and how quickly that develops. And so be it if people are picking against the purple because of a re-defined defense.

“People are going to say things no matter what, so I just try to play well. And if you want to talk about it, that’s cool. If you don’t, that’s cool. I think if we all just play well then we’ll win games, and you can say we’re good or bad,” Smith said.

Mike Max

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