Defense first: Smith downplays tackles lead

Harrison Smith led the Vikings in tackles, but he said he’s just doing his job and hopes that tackles get made before the ball carrier gets to his level.

For almost the entirety of his career, Chad Greenway led the Vikings in tackles. That streak got broken in 2014 when safety Harrison Smith led the team in tackles with 102.

Smith displayed his playmaking ability, but it begs the question: Is it a good thing to be a safety leading the team in tackles?

A lot of those tackles come deep down the field. But in the new defensive scheme with the Vikings, safeties are asked to do a lot.

“You see me down at the line sometimes and playing pass defense deep,” Smith said. “We have a lot of freedom in our defense to put safeties in position to make plays. It’s up to us to get it done. I’m put in position to make tackles and it’s my job to do it.”

But, Smith was willing to admit, for the Vikings to improve defensively, a lot more tackles will need to be made by the front seven. The opportunities are there for everyone. Smith did his part in 2014, but he realizes that safeties don’t lead teams in tackles too often.

“When the ball is snapped, it’s our job to get to it,” Smith said. “That’s what we do. We have 11 guys going for the ball and whoever gets to it first is the one who stops the play. I led the team in tackles because the guy with the ball came my way. I don’t care if I lead the team. I care that I make tackles when I should.”

SUNDAY NOTES

  • In what may prove to be a controversial ruling, Hennepin County Judge Ivy Bernhardson ruled that off-duty police officers can carry handguns at TCF Bank Stadium during Vikings games. Last season, only on-duty uniformed officers were allowed to carry handguns, despite off-duty officers also being part of the details. The NFL maintained it had the right to prohibit guns at its own sanctioned events, but the judge ruled that the Legislature intended for the off-duty arming of police officers at private establishments applied to the university, the NFL and the Vikings.

  • Documents from the City of Minneapolis indicate concerns that the projections for revenue from two parking lots critical to the construction of the $62 million publicly financed development next to the Vikings new stadium will struggle to meet revenue projections – which would be expected to bring in $115 million over the next 30 years. The Vikings would be entitled to free use of 1,400 parking spots on game days, potential future soccer games if the Wilfs land a franchise and 10 other to-be-determined dates a year.

  • On Friday, the NFL filed a 35-page petition in federal court asking that the court throw out the NFL Players Association filing that the league violated labor-union protocol in handing down a capricious suspension to Peterson that violated the collective bargaining agreement. The CBA allowed Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL-assigned arbitrators to determine suspensions. The Peterson case is scheduled to be heard by U.S. District Court Judge David Doty on Feb. 6.

  • The final numbers for the third fiscal quarter of the sales of NFL jerseys (September through November) were released this week and Bridgewater finished 21st in the rankings. Ten of the top 20 players on the list were quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning (No. 1), Russell Wilson (2), Colin Kaepernick (3), Tom Brady (5), Aaron Rodgers (6), Drew Brees (12), Andrew Luck (13), Johnny Manziel (14), Tony Romo (17) and Nick Foles (18). The numbers for Brady, Rodgers and Brees are the most impressive, given the amount of time they’ve spent with their current teams and how many fans have already purchased their jerseys. Adrian Peterson didn’t show up on the list as he was embroiled in his legal controversy at the time. The only other Viking to finish in the top 50 was Cordarrelle Patterson, who finished 48th.


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