“I’m so excited,” Smith-Schuster said. “An honor, a blessing.”

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Though it’s one play, the block from the first half of the Steelers’ 26-9 win on Sunday is an example of the physicality the Pittsburgh Steelers identified in Smith-Schuster in the 2017 draft. The team took notice this week. That kind of block earns credibility, especially against a Pro Bowl safety such as Smith.

The Vikings will likely start Anthony Harris in Smith’s place on Sunday, while Nick Easton will get another start at center in Berger’s place. Berger took part in the Vikings’ light practice on Tuesday and discount nfl jerseys was a limited participant in the team’s first official practice of the week Wednesday. But Berger did not participate Thursday and Friday, and coach Mike Zimmer said Friday afternoon that Berger was still in the league’s concussion protocol.

Even at this point in their careers, Smith and Sendejo still benefit from the guidance they’ve received from Newman, the 39-year-old cornerback looked to as a veteran leader in the locker room.

The Packers didn’t cross midfield until the final four minutes of the first half, and on the two drives that made it inside the Vikings’ 20-yard line, they turned it over once on downs and once on Hundley’s third red-zone interception of the season — a play in which he had Kendricks open in the first window but waited too long, giving safety (who had both interceptions) time to close on the ball.

Smith had said Jan. 2 that he would not need surgery after returning from the ankle sprain to play the Vikings’ final two games, and he played in his second Pro Bowl on Jan. 30. He ultimately decided, however, to have an operation to clean up the injury. The operation, which is believed to be similar to the one Vikings running back Latavius Murray had last week, should have Smith ready in plenty of time for the 2017 season.

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Harris, who started two games last year, hasn’t started yet this season, but played the majority of the Vikings’ safety snaps on Oct. 31 against the Chicago Bears, after rookie Jayron Kearse took a poor angle on Jordan Howard’s 69-yard run in the first quarter. There’s little doubt the Vikings will miss Smith’s versatility, but defensive coordinator George Edwards said Thursday he expects the team will do similar things with Harris that it’s done with Smith.

Nike Vikings #22 Harrison Smith Olive Men's Stitched NFL Limited 2017 Salute to Service Jersey
Nike Vikings #22 Harrison Smith Olive Men’s Stitched NFL Limited 2017 Salute to Service Jersey

Smith suffered a left knee injury Sunday when he collided with cornerback Terence Newman in the first quarter of the Vikings’ loss to the Green Bay Packers. He was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report Friday after practicing on a limited basis, and he said he was going to do his best to take care of his knee between then and Sunday.

In any case, dealing with Jones, who leads the league with 89 catches, already figured to be a tough task. The absence of Smith — who tied for third in the league with five interceptions last season — could be a significant loss for the Vikings.

He did not intercept a pass in 2016 after posting 12 interceptions during his first four years in the league, but registered two sacks while serving as one of the steadying forces for a defense that allowed the sixth-fewest yards and third-fewest points in the league.

Smith proudly told the story of Sendejo’s journey from an undrafted free agent that signed with the Sacramento Mountain Lions for his rookie season before getting a shot with the Cowboys. Several heads nodded in agreement realizing that they, too, could one day be in a spot where the players they look up to are now.