Vikings put Smith on IR with possible return

The Minnesota Vikings have allowed the ball to be passed against

them this season at an alarming rate.

This week they had to give up their best defensive back. Talk

about a combustible combination.

The Vikings placed safety Harrison Smith on injured reserve with

designation to return on Friday, and the best-case scenario for him

is a return for the final three games when he’s eligible to rejoin

the active roster. In six weeks when he will be allowed to resume

practicing with the team, coach Leslie Frazier said, the Vikings

will re-evaluate the turf toe injury on his left foot and determine

whether he’s healing fast enough to do that or recommend surgery

that requires four to six months of rehabilitation.

”I was upset about that. I love playing with him,” cornerback

Chris Cook said. ”He’s the best safety I’ve ever played with, and

I’m definitely going to miss him out there.”

Cook’s career began in 2010, so his sample size is limited. But

losing Smith, a first-round draft pick in 2012 who instantly became

one of the biggest-impact players on the team, is another

can’t-make-this-up blow to a reeling secondary. Andrew Sendejo will

replace him in the starting lineup.

The Vikings have given up the fourth-most average yards passing

per game in the league this year with 308, putting them on pace to

break the franchise record of 4,225 yards surrendered in 2007. With

13 touchdowns given up in five games, they’re last in the NFL with

that rate and also on pace to set the franchise mark for futility

with 41 scores thrown against them this season.

”No matter what the rankings, no matter how many plays, you

still have to have confidence at corner,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes

said. ”To be a great secondary, to be a great corner, you’ve still

got to have confidence and hope. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Over the last 15 seasons, the Vikings have finished in the

bottom quarter of the league in passing nine times in yards allowed

and four times in touchdowns allowed for average rankings of 25th

and 19th in those categories in that span.

Smith has two interceptions, the only ones this year by a

Vikings defensive back. Cornerback Jacob Lacey was signed to fill

his roster spot.

Though the Vikings must play on the road Monday they’re at least

facing a struggling quarterback in Eli Manning, whose 15

interceptions lead the league.

”It’s very exciting. Hopefully he’ll come in and throw us a

few,” said Cook, who has yet to record an interception in 26 NFL

games.

This defense, though, has more problems than lax coverage or a

lack of interceptions. Stopping the run used to be its calling

card, and that’s not happening anymore. Last week’s 35-10 loss to

Carolina was evidence.

”They could do whatever they wanted, and when you don’t get

your footing in one facet of the game, it’s hard to stop either,”

linebacker Chad Greenway said.

NOTES: RB Adrian Peterson was held out of practice Thursday to

rest a tight hamstring, and the Vikings did the same for LT Matt

Kalil due to tightness in his back. Frazier said neither injury is

a concern. … LB Desmond Bishop will have reconstructive right

knee surgery done Tuesday by Alabama-based specialist Dr. James

Andrews. He was hurt Sunday when a Carolina player rolled into his

leg after missing a cut block attempt on DE Jared Allen. Bishop

missed last season with Green Bay because of a torn right

hamstring, an injury he said was worse than this. ”I’ve been here

before. I know what it takes to come back, physically, mentally,

psychologically. I’m prepared,” said Bishop, who signed a one-year

contract with Minnesota and will turn 30 before next season. …

The Vikings won’t decide until Monday whether Blair Walsh (right

hamstring) will take kickoff duties back from punter Jeff Locke,

who filled in last week. Locke sent two kickoffs to the end zone,

one for a touchback, and also averaged 49.8 yards on four punts.

”The best game he’s had as a pro,” special teams coordinator Mike

Priefer said.

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org

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