EAGAN, Minn. — A Vikings safety not named Harrison Smith has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
After intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble against Atlanta, Anthony Harris was honored on Wednesday.
Last season, Smith, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the opener. Smith also won the award in Week 16 in 2017.
Harris played a key role in a dominant defensive performance.
“It was cool to get recognized for my play,” Harris said. “People were congratulating me. … A lot of guys said, ‘Congratulations.’ ”
Harris has given plenty for credit for his interceptions to the defensive line for pressuring Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.
“We tend to look at these awards as team awards,” said Zimmer. “(On) the interceptions that he had, we had great pressure on the quarterback, but Anthony continues to get better. He’s a smart guy. He plays sudden because I think he’s got good vision. He does a nice job understanding his role within the scheme and within the play call of that particular play.”
It marks the 11th time a Vikings player has been named Defensive Player of the Week since Zimmer took over as coach in 2014. It is the fourth straight time Minnesota has had a player of the week named after an opener. Prior to Smith’s honor last season, linebacker Eric Kendricks won the defensive award in 2016 and quarterback Sam Bradford the offensive award in 2017.
Elflein questionable for Sunday in Green Bay
The Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line was intact last Sunday for the first time this season, but now there could be some concern.
Starting left guard Pat Elflein sat out practice Wednesday with a knee injury. His status for Sunday’s game at Green Bay remains to be seen.
Also missing practice was cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who suffered a dislocated elbow injury in last Sunday’s 28-12 win over Atlanta in the opener at U.S. Bank Stadium. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer didn’t rule out that he could play against the Packers.
Right tackle Brian O’Neill missed the preseason with a knee injury, so the starting offensive line was intact for the first time against the Falcons. The Vikings rolled up 172 yards rushing on 38 carries.
Speaking before Wednesday’s practice, Zimmer did not address Elflein’s injury. Dakota Dozier worked with the first team at left guard and said he would be ready if Elflein can’t play.
“I do what they tell me,’’ Dozier said. “If it’s time to go, I’ll do it. If not, I’ll be ready to back him up.’’
Alexander, the nickel back, was hurt late in the first half against the Falcons. He had an MRI on Monday and Zimmer said the results were “pretty good.’’
“Who said I’m going to be without him?’’ Zimmer said when asked how long Alexander will be out. “We’ll see.’’
Listed as limited in practice were linebacker Anthony Barr (knee), cornerback Mike Hughes (knee), tight end Tyler Conklin (ribs), wide receiver Josh Doctson (hamstring) and cornerback Mark Fields (groin).
Zimmer reiterated that Hughes, who hasn’t played since suffering a torn ACL and other ligament damage in Week 6 last year as a rookie, could return Sunday.
“I think there’s a chance,’’ Zimmer said.
Jones welcomed back
Center Brett Jones was back on the practice field after a one-week absence from the Vikings.
The Vikings released Jones on Sept. 3 with the intent of soon bringing him back. He was re-signed Tuesday after Minnesota waived rookie tight end Brandon Dillon to create a roster spot. As expected, Dillon was signed Wednesday to the practice squad.
“It was nice to see (Jones) back,” Dozier said. “We had a feeling that hopefully he would be. … I said to him, ‘Good to see you. I hope you enjoyed your time off.’ ”
When Jones was away from the team, his locker remained untouched. He was released when the Vikings needed a roster spot to sign Doctson.
One reason Jones was let go was because he is a vested veteran and couldn’t be claimed on waivers by another team. Because he was released after 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, he was paid his full game check of $47,353 for Week 1.
Jones returned on the same one-year, $805,000 deal with incentives. As a vested veteran, his salary is now guaranteed for the season.
If Elflein can’t play Sunday, Jones would serve as the backup center.