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Mike Zimmer: Cam Smith can have normal life, maybe play again

Silver linings can emerge from even the most unfortunate circumstances.

In the case of Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith, that might well be the case as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic served as the backdrop that brought to the forefront a very serious heart issue.

Smith tested positive for COVID-19 and further testing revealed he was in need of open-heart surgery.

"He's a great kid. It's disappointing for him. But honestly, it's probably a blessing for him," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Friday, via the team's Twitter account. "He's going to be able to live a normal life and possibly play football."  

Smith coined the circumstances as a "blessing," as well, when he delivered his news on Instagram on Aug. 8.

Had it not been for Smith testing positive for the novel coronavirus, it's anyone's guess when or if his need to fix a bicuspid aortic valve that he was born with would have been uncovered. He doesn't believe he would have, though, which he told reporters on Friday.

"Yeah, the way it looks right now, I wouldn't have ever known about this — or as soon as I do now — without getting tested for COVID and testing positive in that timeframe," Smith said, via the team website's Craig Peters. "It does feel like it's a blessing in a way that I did test positive, and the further tests to make sure I was all right did save my life. It's an interesting feeling, but I feel like it's a blessing in disguise, and there's a lot of good that came from that."

Currently, Smith is on the team's reserve/non-football injury list as the Vikings waived him so he could be moved from the active roster and revert to the NFI list as he prepares for surgery.

Smith, 23, is a USC product whom the Vikings selected in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. He played in five games during his rookie season, seeing time on special teams and at linebacker with eight total tackles.

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