MANKATO, Minn. - Harrison Smith's rookie season for Minnesota was marked by hard-hitting play at safety, three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
Both the Vikings and Smith are hoping for even more growth in year two, but Smith knows that there's more to learn and more to accomplish.
"Nobody's 100 percent," Smith said. "Nobody is the best they can be right now. So, I always have to get better and always improve, so I need to have that same attitude."
His intense style gave the secondary a big boost in 2012. But it also yielded one ejection and a $21,000 fine.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he never saw Smith intimidated by the pressure that came from being a starter on a playoff team in his first year in the NFL. Frazier said Smith "had no fear," a trait not always apparent in rookies.
With a year under his belt, Smith feels even more comfortable at the start of training camp in Mankato.
"I think just the little things, knowing the schedule, knowing where to eat, knowing that you have to weigh in, but you have to weigh in and weigh out, just the little time issues that takes stress off of you," Smith said.
This season, the Vikings will be asking more of Smith. In a group of defensive backs stinging from the departure of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, Smith is posted to become a louder voice and stronger leader.
"I felt like a leader on the field last year," Smith said. "Maybe this year, I will take another step forward, make more plays. They can count on me a little bit more. That's something that I just want to develop and just grow as much as possible."
Smith and cornerback Chris Cook are the only real sure starters in the secondary. Josh Robinson and rookie Xavier Rhodes are expected to compete for the cornerback position and Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond will battle again for the other safety spot with Robert Blanton also in the mix for playing time.
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