Vikings star safety Harrison Smith did not practice on Wednesday after picking up a concussion against the Eagles on Monday night. He "feels pretty good," according to head coach Kevin O'Connell, but will need to clear the protocol on a short week if he's going to play against the Lions.
"It will be kind of a day-to-day process," O'Connell said. "He feels pretty good, but we’ll kind of allow that process to play out. Obviously, the sensitivity I have for the protocols and making sure our guys are right, especially early on in the season with a veteran player, we’ll allow Harrison to have the entire process. They’ve got a good protocol in place for this exact reason, and we’ll see how it plays out."
If Smith can't play, either Josh Metellus or rookie Lewis Cine — or some combination of the two — would step in at safety alongside Cam Bynum. Cine made his NFL debut in Philadelphia, playing one defensive snap in addition to special teams duties, but it was Metellus who got ten snaps late in the game after Smith left.
It's rare for Smith to be unavailable. The Vikings' longest-tenured player hasn't missed a game due to injury since 2016, although he did miss a couple while on the Reserve/COVID list last year.
Rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. was also absent from the Vikings' jog-through practice on Wednesday. He's still dealing with a quad injury that he suffered while playing special teams in the season opener. Booth could miss his second straight game, but he told Chris Tomasson it's not a long-term issue and he's hopeful he'll be able to play against Detroit.
Fellow rookie Akayleb Evans is currently the No. 3 outside cornerback for the Vikings, behind Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler. Evans replaced Dantzler for non-injury reasons in the second half of Monday's game, so that's something to watch. O'Connell did say after the game that "Cam’s, in my mind, still our starting corner."
The Lions have a busier injury report. Four players didn't practice on Wednesday for Detroit, including star running back D'Andre Swift, No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson — who had three sacks against Washington last Sunday — and starting guard Jonah Jackson. Four others, three of them starters, were limited.
Here's the full injury report. We'll see how things change on Thursday and Friday.
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