Safety Harrison Smith didn’t get any advance notice last week when he found out he would be a Vikings captain for the first time in his nine-year career.
“(Coach Mike Zimmer) just announced it in a meeting,’’ the five-time Pro Bowl selection said Wednesday. “That’s it.’’
Zimmer also named running back Dalvin Cook as a captain for the first time. The others named were holdovers: quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight end Kyle Rudolph, guard Riley Reiff and linebacker Anthony Barr.
“It’s cool,’’ Smith said of being a captain for the first time. “Obviously, you want captains that kind of reflect what the organization wants to be like, work ethic, teamwork, guys who step up in big moments as well as guys that can be looked to from the younger guys, and I’ve always tried to carry myself that way. … It’s cool to have that patch and everything, but I don’t think much has changed for me.’’
Rudolph agreed. He was Smith’s teammate from 2008-10 at Notre Dame and has been his Vikings teammate since 2012.
“It’s well deserved,’’ Rudolph said. “It’s maybe the first time that he’s had a C on his chest on game days, but he’s been one of the leaders of our defense for far more years prior to this year being a captain for the first time.’’
At least some fans
Vikings players will at least have some supporters at Sunday’s game at Indianapolis.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Colts are allowing only 2,500 fans to attend the game. Each Minnesota player got two tickets for the game.
No fans were allowed at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday for Minnesota’s 43-34 loss to Green Bay in the opener. Cousins said he’s “not sure” how the small crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium will impact the game.
“I know in high school (in Holland, Mich.), I probably didn’t play in front of 2,500 fans very often,” Cousins said. “It was usually less than that, but if we had gotten 2,500 I think the stadium’s got a lot of juice, so if high school football is any indication I would expect there’s still going to be some noise.’’
Running into Rhodes
Zimmer hopes that former Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes does well this season.
That is, except on Sunday.
“Xavier is a great kid and I love him,” Zimmer said. “I hope he doesn’t play good against us.”
Rhodes played for the Vikings from 2013-19 and made three Pro Bowls. He was released in March in a salary-related move and signed with the Colts.
“I have the utmost respect for Xavier,’’ Cousins said. “He’s done it for a long time and we always asked a lot of him. When we beat the Saints I think he was the very first person to hug me in the playoff game (last January), which says something about him as a teammate and a person.’’
A source said free-agent safety George Iloka on Wednesday was still going through coronavirus testing and remained hopeful of signing with Minnesota later this week. A source said Tuesday that if all goes as planned Iloka will return to the Vikings after having played with them in 2018.
Former Vikings defensive linemen Jared Allen and Kevin Williams are among 130 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2021. They are among 14 players nominated in their first year of eligibility. The class will be named Feb. 6.
After losing the time of possession battle to the Packers 41:16-18:44, the Vikings will look to change that Sunday. “That involves a lot of different pieces, protecting the football, converting third downs, sustaining drives,’’ Cousins said.