Vikings sound optimistic about top defender playing vs. Saints on Sunday

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Za'Darius Smith
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Za'Darius Smith /

Despite being listed as questionable with a knee injury, the Minnesota Vikings sound optimistic about Za’Darius Smith playing on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

For the second week in a row, the Minnesota Vikings could be without a top defender due to an injury. In Week 3, the Vikings had to take the field without safety Harrison Smith while he recovered from a concussion, and this week, Minnesota might have to face the New Orleans Saints without outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith.

During the Vikings’ win over the Detroit Lions last weekend, Smith sustained a knee injury that forced him to miss two of the team’s practice sessions this week. He was able to get in some limited work during Minnesota’s practice on Friday, so that seems like a good sign for his chances to play on Sunday.

O’Connell revealed Smith’s questionable status on Friday, but the Vikings head coach sounded optimistic about the possibility of the veteran pass rusher suiting up this weekend against the Saints.

Za’Darius Smith not playing against the New Orleans Saints would be a big loss for the Minnesota Vikings

Three weeks into the 2022 season, the performance of the Vikings defense has been mostly underwhelming. However, Smith has been one of the few bright spots for Minnesota on the defensive side of the ball this year.

So far this season, Smith has the second-highest defensive PFF grade on the Vikings’ roster, and he’s accounted for almost 25 percent of the team’s total pressures.

Whenever Minnesota’s defense has come up with a big play this year, Smith has often had something to do with it. If he can’t suit up on Sunday against New Orleans, the Vikings will likely have to get creative in order to generate some impactful plays.

Since it’s still only Week 4, Minnesota might be more inclined to keep Smith out on Sunday to give him some additional time to recover from his injury.

The Vikings‘ new regime has certainly been more cautious when it comes to player health compared to the last regime, so don’t be surprised if they play it safe and keep the veteran linebacker out of action on Sunday.

But if Smith can play this weekend, Minnesota’s chances of beating the Saints and improving their record to 3-1 this season will definitely be much higher.

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