Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith already graduated from Chris Wesseling's Making the Leap series after quickly becoming one of the league's brightest young defensive backs.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, his second NFL campaign is in jeopardy.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that Smith is not planning to undergo surgery to correct the turf toe injury that cropped up during Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers. But Smith likely is headed to injured reserve with a designation to return, according to a source informed of the injury.
Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported earlier that a pair of doctors recommended surgery, but the Vikings want to give the injury time to heal. Don't expect to see Smith on Monday night against the New York Giants. Andrew Sendejo stepped in at safety against the Panthers and will continue being leaned on.
Smith's absence is a major loss for a Vikings defense that, frankly, hasn't been very good this season. Smith made an impact right away after Minnesota grabbed him out of Notre Dame in the first round of the 2012 draft. There were higher hopes than this for 2013.