EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - A simple "no" wouldn't suffice. Instead, Harrison Smith made his point by rattling off the final three opponents on the Vikings' schedule.
Asked recently if he considered shutting down for the season to recover fully from his turf toe injury, Smith quickly and unequivocally brushed aside that line of questioning, even though the Vikings were humming along on the path to nowhere.
"Eagles, Bengals, Lions," the second-year safety noted.
In other words, Smith had no intention of calling it a season, regardless of the team's record or circumstance.
"All the other stuff that comes with playing in the NFL is nice obviously, but getting to play on Sundays is what it's all about," he said. "So when you can't do that, you feel kind of lost."
Smith is expected to get his wish this week after being sidelined since Oct. 13. Barring an unforeseen setback in practice, Smith will be activated from the injured reserve/designated for return list and play against the Eagles on Sunday.
Coach Leslie Frazier said the plan calls for Smith to ease back into action. Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo will remain the starters with Smith getting a predetermined number of snaps as a backup.
"Based on how Harrison does this week [in practice] we'll make a determination on how much he plays," Smith said.
Smith chose rest and rehabilitation over surgery after being diagnosed with turf toe in his left foot following the Carolina game. The Vikings gave Smith the "designated for return" tag, meaning he was eligible to return to practice two weeks ago after being sidelined for six weeks.