Harrison Smith (#22) helps bring down Randy MossIt has been an eventful rookie season for Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Smith, who played his college football last year at Notre Dame, has had a big impact in the Vikings’ defensive backfield with bone crunching hits, including one that earned him a fine from the league office. He also had his bell rung last Sunday against the Bears and had to leave the game with concussion symptoms.

Minnesota Score caught up with Smith this week, who has now been cleared by doctors to play in this week’s game at Green Bay, something he is very happy about:

HS            Yeah I passed all the tests and feel good so I’m just excited to play.

MS            Talk about the play where you did get shook up.

HS             I just kind of got hit in the right spot I guess or the wrong spot.  It wasn’t even like really the most violent hit it just kind of got me in the right spot.

MS            This will be your first trip to Lambeau Field in green bay are you excited?

HS            Oh yeah, it’s what everybody says it’s kind of the hallowed ground of the NFL so definitely excited to go play up there and see what it’s like.

MS            And, against Aaron Rodgers, obviously you’ve seen him play before on video and so on,  but what do you think about playing against him in that environment?

HS            It will definitely be a great challenge, and I think he has the number one QB rating right now so he’s a great player. You know everybody’s seen him do it time and time again. So he’s a good challenge to go against as a rookie safety.

MS            Only one road win for the Vikings this year and that was in Detroit at Ford Field, a Dome. Everything else outside has been a loss. Why does this team struggle in the elements?

HS            I don’t really know I just think maybe we just didn’t get it done on those days whether that has to do with if we’re outside or not or what have you, I don’t know.

MS            Looking back at last Sunday what things need to be tweaked defensively for you guys do you think?

HS            No major overhaul or anything just kind of tightening the screws and just everybody just doing a better job, just being consistent, just doing our job every play.

MS            How surprised are you that your old school Notre Dame is number one? I mean they’re going to the BCS Title Game in Miami.

HS            Yeah, honestly, I’m shocked, but knowing the guys on the team, knowing the coaches, knowing just the people at Notre Dame, you know everything that they do is striving for excellence so that part doesn’t surprise me and I’m just happy for them.

MS            What of this NFL season as you look back at your first year here, what things have surprised you about this league and what things do you kind of figure well this is the way it was going to be anyway?

HS            I think most things are kind of the way I thought it would be, not that it’s a surprise, but just the season is very long and everyone says that and you think that but to feel it is different; so just kind of maintaining yourself mentally and physically throughout the season is something you’ve just got to stay on top of.

MS            Is there a wall? I mean they talk about the rookie wall.

HS            Yeah, I mean everybody has asked me if I’ve hit the wall or not and I’ve joked that I’ve already hit like seven walls, but I mean, really, I think it’s just a mindset. Your body is gonna hurt, period. Next year my body’s gonna hurt, you know, and the year after that, so you just gotta mentally say “I’m playing football so I’m happy today.”

MS            Green bay has a great core of receivers, Greg Jennings, expected to play again on Sunday so you got to be ready for everybody, don’t you?

HS            Yeah, I mean, he’s obviously a great player and you gotta respect him as a threat, but like you said they’ve got a bunch of other guys that could do it too, so you can’t focus just on him they’ve got so many playmakers.

photo by Marilyn Indahl