EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Rookie safety Harrison Smith has added a physical edge to the Minnesota Vikings defense, but he’s also gaining a reputation for some rough play.
A league spokesman confirmed Friday that the NFL fined Smith $15,750 this week for a horse-collar tackle on Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in last Sunday’s 38-26 loss to the Redskins. It’s the second time this season Smith has been fined by the league, though he did avoid a fine and suspension after pushing an official during Minnesota’s Week 5 win against the Tennessee Titans. Smith, selected by the Vikings in the first round of the April draft, was chasing down Griffin, the Redskins’ elusive rookie quarterback, and grabbed the back of Griffin’s pads and jersey while trying to make a diving tackle. Smith was given a 15-yard penalty and Griffin ran for a seven-yard touchdown on the next play to give Washington a 24-9 lead early in the third quarter.
Smith, 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, also drew a $21,000 fine for an illegal hit on San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie in the third preseason game.
Minnesota (4-2) has used a physical, attacking defense to be one of the surprises in the NFL this season, and Smith has played a big part. The hard-hitting safety is seventh on the team with 24 tackles this season despite missing more than two-thirds of the Tennessee game after he was ejected.
In that game, following an interception by Antoine Winfield, Smith exchanged words with Titans receiver Nate Washington. Back judge Steve Freeman intervened and pushed Smith out of the way, but the Vikings’ safety batted away Freeman’s arms and was ejected. Surprisingly, Smith wasn’t even fined and Ray Anderson, the league’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations, “determined the ejection was sufficient discipline.”