Cameron Smith

Vikings LB Cameron Smith Retires

Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith will opt not to pursue another NFL season, instead announcing his retirement (Instagram link) Wednesday night. This comes after the young defender underwent open-heart surgery in 2020.

A COVID-19 test last summer revealed Smith needed the operation, which ended his season before it started. Although Smith went forward with a procedure that would allow him to continue his NFL career, he will retire nearly a year later.

Smith returned from the surgery and was cleared to return in late May. He participated in Minnesota’s first preseason game Saturday, recording a tackle in the Vikings’ home loss to the Broncos. A concussion, however, ended Smith’s day early.

The 24-year-old defender played in five regular-season games with the Vikings, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. As a backup and special-teamer in 2019, Smith notched eight tackles. He logged special teams snaps in both of Minnesota’s playoff games that year.

Despite the Vikings waiving Smith before last season, he wound up on their IR list. The team paid his full $675K base salary while he recovered from the operation. Smith was a four-year contributor at USC, topping out at 112 tackles (11 for loss) during his 2017 junior season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings LB Cameron Smith Medically Cleared

Vikings LB Cameron Smith might not be a household name, but his return to the practice field is still noteworthy. The 24-year-old, who missed the entire 2020 campaign due to open-heart surgery, has been medically cleared to play, as Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.

Smith has had a tumultuous start to his pro career. Despite less than impressive measurables, his instincts and collegiate production as a four-year player at USC got the Vikings’ attention, and Minnesota selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. He did not survive final cutdowns at the end of his first training camp, though he was quickly signed to the Vikes’ practice squad after he cleared waivers. He was promoted a few weeks later, saw action in a couple of games, and was waived again, only to end up back on the Vikings’ taxi squad before getting another promotion.

In all, he played five games in 2019, compiling eight tackles. Last August, during a COVID test, doctors discovered his heart condition. “COVID saved my life,” Smith said (Twitter link via Tomasson). The Vikings put him on waivers in a procedural move when they realized he would need heart surgery, and he subsequently reverted to season-ending IR (the club paid him his full $675K salary).

Now, Smith has rejoined his teammates, though he will still have an uphill battle to see significant burn on the defensive side of the ball. The Vikings are returning Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, and Minnesota also nabbed North Carolina LB Chazz Surratt in the third round of this year’s draft. Surratt is likely the favorite to land the weakside ‘backer job alongside Barr and Kendricks, but Smith will try to push him for playing time. If nothing else, he could carve out a role on special teams.

Speaking of Barr, the four-time Pro Bowler was also back on the practice field this week, as Tomasson tweets. Barr missed all but two games of the 2020 season due to a torn pec, and he reworked his contract this offseason. He will now be eligible for free agency next March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bears, Packers, Tomlin, Browns

The Bears became the latest team to work out Jamon Brown, with SI.com’s Albert Breer tweeting the guard was in Chicago for an audition. The free agent guard, a Falcons cut last month, has already worked out for the 49ers. Brown was a full-time Rams starter in 2017, but a 2018 suspension derailed his momentum. The Rams waived him shortly after he returned from that ban, but he ended the ’18 season as a Giants first-stringer. The Bears are returning four starters from last season and have been trying ex-Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi at guard.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • The Steelers will let Mike Tomlin enter a contract year. Signed through 2021, Tomlin will not be extended this year, Art Rooney II said (via The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette, subscription required). The Steelers gave Tomlin his most recent extension last July, and he managed an eight-win season despite the largely Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers ranking 32nd in offensive DVOA. Rooney said he plans to address the contracts of Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert, who just signed a one-year extension, in 2021.
  • One of the league’s healthiest teams last season, the Packers may be down a starter in Week 1. Billy Turner suffered a knee injury during a scrimmage and is uncertain for Green Bay’s opener, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Turner played guard for the Packers last season but is competing with free agency addition Ricky Wagner at right tackle this year. Lane Taylor, who missed all of last season, is expected to play right guard opposite emerging talent Elgton Jenkins on the left side.
  • For the second time in three weeks, the Browns brought in Cody Parkey for a visit. The veteran was part of a kicker group to work out for the Browns in August, though it was reported at the time the team was organizing a COVID-related emergency kicker list. Parkey briefly kicked for the Titans last season.
  • Bears training camp coaching intern Henry Burris will stay on the team’s staff all season, Matt Nagy announced. Known mostly for his 17-season CFL run, Burris also was a Bears quarterback for a short time in the early 2000s. This will be his first NFL coaching gig.
  • Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith underwent successful open-heart surgery recently, according to the Associated Press. Mike Zimmer said the second-year defender, who landed on Minnesota’s IR list, will remain in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future to recover.

Vikings Waive LB Cameron Smith, Expect Him To Land On IR

In a procedural move, the Vikings announced that they have waived linebacker Cameron Smith. However, this doesn’t mean it’s the end of his tenure with the organization.

As Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press points out (on Twitter), the front office expects Smith to clear waivers and land on their injured reserve. The reporter adds that the player is expected to earn his fully $675K base salary.

The 23-year-old revealed this weekend that he needs to undergo open-heart surgery and will miss the entire 2020 campaign. Fortunately, Smith also revealed that he opted for a procedure that will allow him to continue his NFL career once he’s fully recovered.

“I found out I need open heart surgery to fix a bicuspid aortic valve that I was born with,” Smith posted on Instagram. “Although this will unfortunately end my 2020 season, it is really a blessing that we found this as my heart is severely enlarged and wouldn’t have lasted much longer. I found this out after I tested positive for COVID and had to have further testing done as protocol. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but I could really feel him on this one!

“By no means am I ready to be done playing football, there is still so much more I want to accomplish on the field. I’m going to attack this like everything else I have in life. Already looking forward to the comeback! #SKOL”

The Vikings selected the USC product in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. The linebacker saw time in five games as a rookie, compiling eight tackles.

Vikings Waive Josh Doctson

The Vikings have waived Josh Doctson, according to a team press release. To take his place on the roster, the club promoted linebacker Cameron Smith from the practice squad. 

Doctson, 26, hasn’t lived up to his 2016 first-round draft billing. He effectively lost his rookie season to injury and didn’t show much in his subsequent seasons with the Redskins. The Vikings gave him a shot this year, but he leaves Minnesota without recording a single reception.

It’s bad news for Doctson, but potentially excellent news when it comes to Adam Thielen‘s recovery. Thielen has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, but his return may be just around the corner. Unfortunately, the release of Doctson will not foreshadow the return of Chad Beebe. The wide receiver was nearing his potential return from injured reserve, but this week’s ankle surgery means that he will not be able to play again in 2019.

The Vikings are 8-3 following back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Cowboys. Next up – a Monday night showdown against the Seahawks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/6/19

Today’s practice squad moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Signed: DE Chuck Harris

Kansas City Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets

  • Signed: OL James Murray

Pittsburgh Steelers

Vikings Activate Holton Hill, Cut Cameron Smith

Holton Hill is finally back. The Vikings activated the young cornerback after he finished serving his suspensions and waived linebacker Cameron Smith in a corresponding roster move, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (Twitter link).

Back in April, Hill was slapped with a four-game ban for a PED violation. A few months later he was suspended again, this time for a substance abuse violation, which earned him another four games. Hill made the team as an undrafted rookie last year and ended up playing a key role, appearing in all 16 games and starting three. A Texas product, Hill had been slated for a lot of playing time in 2019. Still only 22, Hill could provide a huge boost to a Vikings defense that quietly hasn’t been as good as in years past.

Goessling writes that Hill could make his season-debut Sunday against the Chiefs, but that doesn’t sound definite. Smith is a rookie who was released at final cuts and then signed to the practice squad before being promoted a couple weeks ago. A USC product, he was a fifth-round pick in April’s draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/12/19

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

  • Promoted from practice squad: CB Nik Needham
  • Waived: S Doug Middleton

Minnesota Vikings

  • Promoted from practice squad: LB Cameron Smith
  • Waived: WR Davion Davis

New York Giants 

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC North teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Bears, Lions, Packers and Vikings are noted below.

Additionally, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads today. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

Vikings Announce Cuts To Make 53

The Vikings have trimmed their roster down to 53 players. Notably, the team waived kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik, who they just traded a fifth-round pick for a few weeks ago. They also sent packing quarterback Kyle Sloter, who has starred in the preseason the past couple of years and earned a lot of fans. Finally, the team cut their losses with first-round bust Laquon Treadwell. Minnesota drafted the former Ole Miss receiver 23rd overall back in 2016, and he never topped 200 yards with the team.

Here’s the full list of moves:

Waived:

DE Ade Aruna (Injured)

WR Jeff Badet

FB Khari Blasingame

QB Jake Browning

LB Reshard Cliett

T Aviante Collins

DT Curtis Cothran

WR Davion Davis

LB Devante Downs

C Cornelius Edison

RB De’Angelo Henderson

TE Cole Hikutini

WR Alexander Hollins

CB Craig James

DE Stacy Keely

C John Keenoy

LB Greer Martini

CB Nate Meadors

WR Dillon Mitchell

T Storm Norton

DT Tito Odenigbo

DE Anree Saint-Amour

DE Karter Schult

QB Kyle Sloter

LB Cameron Smith

S Derron Smith

CB Duke Thomas

WR Laquon Treadwell

P/K Kaare Vedvik

T Nate Wozniak

S Isaiah Wharton (Injured)

WR Brandon Zylstra

Placed on Reserve/PUP:

TE David Morgan

Placed on Reserve/NFI:

DE Tashawn Bower