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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Harrison Smith may have missed the Pro Bowl, but he’ll be Brett Hundley’s toughest challenge

By Matthew Coller

When Aaron Rodgers went down with a collarbone injury early in the Green Bay Packers’ matchup with the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6, safety Harrison Smith gave Packers backup QB Brett Hundley several welcome-to-the-NFL moments.

Hundley, who had only thrown 10 NFL passes prior to Green Bay’s October 15 game at US Bank Stadium, was sacked twice and picked off by Smith in a 23-10 loss. He only completed two passes in Smith’s direction for a total of 12 yards.

“He’s an instinctive football player, a smart player,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “You can see they are doing a really good job of looking for tips on formations and manorisms, timing the cadence off the 40-second clock, all things that the really good defenses do. Harrison is probably at the front of the line there…you definitely have to be aware of him. When he sees something, he doesn’t hesitate, he’s always going 100 miles per hour. “

Strangely, Smith was left off the Pro Bowl roster, which was announced on Tuesday, despite being rated No. 1 at his position in the NFL by the analytics website Pro Football Focus.

One of the keys to Smith’s game is being able to line up in different places and adjust prior to the snap. Especially less experienced opposing quarterbacks – even good ones like Jared Goff – have struggled with making quick reads against Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense.

“The read for them is a little bit slower usually,” Zimmer said, explaining the impact of moving Smith around. “So when they start to drop back and they are looking at the one safety and he moves to another spot, then they have to change where the coverage is being dictated to throw the ball.”

Smith has lined up at deep safety, nickel corner, linebacker and even outside corner a handful of times this year.

“We try not to give them a pre-snap read,” Zimmer said. “Sendejo and Harrison are good at being able to show something and play something else.”

The Vikings’ 2015 and 2016 Pro Bowler is tied for first on the Vikings with nine passes defended and is third in tackles for loss with five.

Hundley has improved since his nightmarish debut, but his numbers are still underwhelming. The Packers’ backup has seven touchdowns, five interceptions, 6.3 yards per attempt and an 83.8 rating since his loss to Minnesota.

The post Harrison Smith may have missed the Pro Bowl, but he’ll be Brett Hundley’s toughest challenge appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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