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Vikings’ Harrison Smith remains unvaccinated, says views didn’t change after testing positive

“I mean, for me, like I said, I felt fine the whole time, so.”

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Minnesota Vikings defensive back Patrick Peterson (7) and defensive back Harrison Smith (22) talk during drills June 9, 2021, at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Brad Rempel / USA Today Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings safety Harrison Smith said Wednesday he never felt that bad when he tested positive last month for COVID-19 and that his views have not changed on not being vaccinated.

“Uh, no,’’ said Smith, speaking to reporters for the first time since his return to the roster. “I mean, for me, like I said, I felt fine the whole time, so.”

The five-time Pro Bowl selection tested positive the morning of the Nov. 7 game at Baltimore. He missed that game as well as a Nov. 14 game against the Los Angeles Chargers while being on the COVID-19 reserve list for 10 days.

Smith later told reporters he had one symptom related to COVID-19.

“My taste maybe got dull,’’ he said. “That was probably the only thing that felt like something was different.’’

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Smith said he was shocked when he first learned of his positive test.

“For me, it came out of nowhere,’’ said Smith, who said he tested positive also the day after the Baltimore game.

Smith was unable to fly home with the team following the 34-31 overtime loss to the Ravens. He said the Wilf ownership group flew him back to Minnesota on a private plane, and he appreciated that.

Smith said he worked out at his Twin Cities home to stay in shape. He came off the COVID list on Nov. 17 and has played in the past two games.

“I feel good,’’ he said Wednesday. “It’s weird that it happened on an away game, just getting back and not coming in for a while.”

More carries for Nwangwu

With Dalvin Cook having a shoulder injury and not expected to play Sunday at Detroit, that should mean more carries for rookie running back Kene Nwangwu.

Alexander Mattison is expected to replace Cook in the starting lineup. That would move Nwangwu, who has returned two kickoffs this season for touchdowns, up to a backup role.

“We’re going to talk about it more as the week goes on, but he’ll go in there and spell, kind of like what we’ve done with Mattison (backing up Cook),’’ said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. “I don’t think he really wants to be satisfied being a kick returner. He wants to be involved in the offense, and we’ll find some ways.’’

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Nwangwu had his first NFL carry from scrimmage in last week’s 34-26 win at San Francisco, gaining seven yards. He said he’s preparing for Sunday just as he has for all previous games, and it’s out of his hands how much he plays on offense.

Nwangwu had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the 49ers. That followed a 98-yard return for a TD against the Ravens.

“The last one at Baltimore (the hole) was pretty big, but this one was pickup big, like you could drive a car through it,’’ Nwangwu said.

Briefly

Vikings co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said defensive end Kenny Willekes has not played in the past two games since coming off the COVID list because he “hasn’t been healthy.’’ Patterson is hopeful Willekes, who remains on the practice squad, will play against the Lions, and said he was “impressed” with his play before he overall missed the past three games. … The Vikings had a walk-through practice Wednesday because Zimmer said the Vikings have done a lot of traveling lately for games, have had some “pretty physical games” and have two games coming up in a short period. After facing the Lions, they play host to Pittsburgh on Dec. 9. … The Vikings have moved wide receiver Bisi Johnson from the injured reserve list to the COVID-19 reserve list. He was lost for the season in training camp with a knee injury.

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Harrison Smith (Jon Ekstrom / Minnesota Vikings)

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