There’s been so much attention paid to the quarterbacks and the play calling in Minnesota that their defensive shortcomings have flown a bit under the radar so far this season.
Last Sunday’s 35-10 loss to the Panthers shed some light on some of those problems, none of which were helped by safety Harrison Smith’s departure during the game with a turf toe injury. The 2012 first-round pick has been the best player in the Vikings secondary thus far and losing him left a struggling unit in even more trouble.
Things might not get better anytime soon. Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that Smith may need season-ending surgery to repair the issue with his toe. Nothing is imminent on the surgical front as the team hopes that the injury can heal without the operation, but, per Pelissero, two doctors have recommended that he have the operation.
Whatever happens with the surgery, Smith will be out for Monday night’s game against the Giants. Andrew Sendejo replaced Smith last weekend and is the likeliest starter in his place. Eli Manning probably won’t have too many better opportunities to turn his season around than the one the Vikings secondary will provide.
UPDATE 10:41 a.m. ET: We’re now hearing chatter that Smith could be a candidate for injured reserve, with the designation to return.