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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Harrison Smith on Vikings’ defensive potential: ‘We want to be one of the best’

By Andrew Krammer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Harrison Smith would say he’s glad to have his contract extension “knocked out of the way.”

That’s what the physical, 6-foot-2-inch Smith has done to opponents in his four-year NFL career so far. So another obstacle in his path to remain in the Vikings secondary was knocked out when Smith signed a five-year, $51.25 million deal, including a $10 million signing bonus, on Monday morning.

“It felt great, knowing they want me here and want me to be a part of this team and organization,” Smith said Tuesday. “There are too many good players, good guys, good coaches. I would’ve been very disappointed to not stick around for the things we have potential to do.”

The expectation is to be the best, if you ask Vikings defenders.

Back at rookie minicamp, cornerback Xavier Rhodes said they obviously need to improve “because we weren’t number one.” Last season, the second under coach Mike Zimmer’s defensive scheme, saw the Vikings make a sizable leap to NFC North champions through a fifth-ranked scoring defense while being among the league’s best in critical situations like red zone and third down.

They did so with a young core that has been collected, primarily, through draft and free agent additions since 2012, when Rick Spielman took over as general manager. Smith was the 29th-overall pick that year, and he’s the first defender since Everson Griffen in 2014 to ink a lucrative extension to stay in Minnesota.

Should players progress as the Vikings anticipate, Smith will be the first of a few defenders to sign significant extensions in the coming years. Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd will enter the fifth and final years of their rookie contracts after this season.

With a foundation in place, Smith said the Vikings see themselves as a “good” defense, with the potential to be “one of the best.”

“That’s kind of what I think we all have in mind,” Smith said. “I’m obviously not a cap expert or the GM, but I’m happy to be apart of it and the potential we have. There’s still a lot we have to do. We can’t just show up and be a good team. We have to show up here and work. That’s part of the deal and something I look forward to.”

The 27-year-old Smith just became the NFL’s highest-paid safety by virtue of his $10.25 million average per season on the five-year extension. Zimmer praised Smith’s attention to detail during Organized Team Activities while negotiations were ongoing.

“He’s a leader by example,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “Plays real hard, he’s tough and smart. He’s like a lot of our guys.”

The Vikings have a couple areas of focus in the aim to be among the league’s best. They want to improve in hurry-up or two-minute situations, said defensive end Brian Robison, as well as run defense, where the Vikings were tied 21st in the league by allowing 4.3 yards per carry.

They’re not getting ahead of themselves, at least not with a head coach like Zimmer and a leader like Smith.

“I don’t want to say [we’re among the best] already,” Smith said. “I know Zim wouldn’t like that, but that’s the mindset we have, is we want to be that. So that’s what we’re working toward right now. We have a lot of guys who want to be up there.”

The post Harrison Smith on Vikings’ defensive potential: ‘We want to be one of the best’ appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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