Smith, who entered concussion protocol in Monday’s 24-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, was confirmed to have a concussion by head coach Kevin O’Connell. He’ll be up against concussion protocol and a short week with a matchup with the Detroit Lions slated for Sunday.
“Harrison is in the [concussion] protocol,” O’Connell said in a September 21 press conference. “Short week so it will be a day-to-day process. He feels pretty good but we’ll allow that process to play out.”
While the NFL has no set timetable for concussion protocol, Smith will have to clear a five-step process in a shorter timeline than most players are afforded.
“The sensitivity I have for the protocol 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,” O’Connell said.
Harrison Smith Unlikely to Play in Week 3 Under NFL Guidelines
Not only working against a shortened week of preparation, but Smith also enters league concussion protocol that has changed dramatically over the years with the emerging evidence surrounding CTE.
In a 2019 American Journal of Sports Medicine study, health officials found that NFL players from 2012 to 2015 returned to action 19 days after their concussion.
Data collected between 1996 and 2001 showed that NFL players were sidelined for six or fewer days after a concussion.
“The longer return-to-play time after a concussion is due to the stronger concussion protocol now used by the NFL,” HealthDayNews’ Robert Preidt wrote.
Under the protocols, the average case results in the players missing 1.5 games, per Preidt. Smith will have to show considerable improvement in the next two days before he is considered to suit up against the Detroit Lions in Week 3.
Lewis Cine Could Make His 1st Career Start on Sunday
If Smith does not clear concussion protocol for Sunday’s matinee against the Lions, first-round pick Lewis Cine could be in line to make his first career start alongside second-year safety Cam Bynum.
Cine missed the season opener due to a quad injury and made his NFL debut in Week 2 against the Eagles. He played just one defensive snap. Josh Metellus would be the other option at safety opposite of Bynum.
The hope that Cine would take the starting reigns from Bynum continues to be deferred, however, he’d be a better replacement for Smith’s role in the defense over Metellus.
“It’s very, very important that that gets handled through the medical protocol,” O’Connell said on September 19 following Smith’s departure from the game, per Vikings.com. “It is a short week, so we’ll just kind of have to see where he’s at, but he was all over the field tonight and had to make a lot of plays down the field in the run and pass game.
“He’s one of our guys, one of our leaders, and not one time did you ever feel like Harrison wasn’t leading the way out there, but unfortunately we did lose him,” O’Connell added. “We’ll see how he is throughout the rest of the week.”