Harrison Smith to start on Sunday next to Sanford, but will be limited
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - In his second year, Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith has earned the Vikings coaches' trust and the right to stay in a ball game when he says so.
That could change Sunday at the Cincinnati Bengals, even though he's pegged to start for the first time since an Oct. 13 foot injury that took eight games out of his season.
"We thought we'd limit the amount of snaps [Smith] got because he was out for so long," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "He just continued to say, 'coach, I'm feeling good, I'm feeling good.' So Joe [Woods] kept him in there. Probably too many [snaps] though."
Safeties Andrew Sendejo and Jamarca Sanford started in Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but Smith rotated in every series and switched off with his two cohorts. Smith played 61 snaps, or 88 percent of the possible playing time as he tied the team high with eight tackles.
After going from two weeks of practice to a full-game load, Smith has felt the impact this week and could be limited even further when he starts against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The preliminary plan is to have Sanford start alongside him, per Williams.
"Harrison was pretty sore this week, you can imagine with the number of snaps he played and the tempo the [Eagles] offense was in," Williams said. "It was tough for him to come in and play that many snaps."
"Hopefully we won't get him that many this time, but still get him in the ball game and get him going."
After starting the previous nine games, Sendejo will likely be set back into a rotational role after grabbing his first career interception in the loss at Baltimore on Dec. 8. However, he could still be in line for a handful of snaps as coaches ease Smith back into action.
"We thought [Smith] played really well," Williams said. "It was because of the type of the ball game it was, no huddle, didn't really have a chance to catch your breath. That was more it than anything. He said, 'coach, I felt like I've been to a college workout.'"
"That means his body was really sore."