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Smith still out of practice, a long shot for Sunday

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.--Harrison Smith is recovering from a sprained left ankle, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, but the starting free safety did not practice Thursday and appears to be a long shot to play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.-Harrison Smith is recovering from a sprained left ankle, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, but the starting free safety did not practice Thursday and appears to be a long shot to play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

Smith had been battling a high ankle sprain since being injured in a victory over Arizona on Nov. 20. After a Dec. 1 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, he left U.S. Bank Stadium on crutches and wore a walking boot on his left foot.

"He's getting along pretty good," Zimmer said Thursday before practice.

Smith did not play in Sunday's victory at Jacksonville and was withheld from practice Wednesday. Asked if Smith might practice Thursday, Zimmer said, "I don't know; we'll see. He's moving around pretty good, so we'll just see how he's doing."

A source told the Pioneer Press that Smith has a Grade 3 sprain, medically characterized by a torn ligament. Zimmer dismissed the report on Wednesday.

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Despite missing a game, Smith leads the Vikings in total tackles (84) and solo tackles (64) and has two sacks. The fifth-year pro made the Pro Bowl last season.

"He's an instinctive guy," Zimmer said. "I don't know if he covers up for other people's mistakes, but he's an instinctive guy that sees things quickly and reacts to the play a little quicker than other people. That's probably why it shows a little bit more."

He was replaced last week by Anthony Harris, a second-year pro who had seven solo tackles in Sunday's 25-16 victory over the Jaguars. Zimmer said Harris isn't as instinctive as Smith "but only because he's younger."

THE GREAT INDOORS

Sunday is expected to be the first day Vikings fans can really appreciate being back indoors. The forecast high is 9 below zero. Players will appreciate it, too.

Asked how he feels about being indoors on a day like that, cornerback Xavier Rhodes said, "Ummm, awesome?

"It's good, man, not being out there," he said. "I hear kickoff is going to be negative 14, they say. I'm not sure. That's great - inside, not feeling that at all."

The Vikings' last home game outdoors, in the Gophers' TCF Bank Stadium, was a 10-9 playoff loss to Seattle during which it was minus 6 with wind chills reaching minus 25.

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INJURY REPORT

Quarterback Sam Bradford was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday by a right shoulder injury, according to the team's injury report, but is expected to play Sunday. Cornerback Trae Waynes and guard Brandon Fusco missed their second straight practice because of concussions. ... Center Joe Berger, also in the NFL's concussion protocol, was a limited participant Thursday. ... Punt returner Marcus Sherels, out last week with a rib injury, was a limited participant Thursday. ... Receiver Stefon Diggs (knee) was back at full speed.

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