Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 8, 2012 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Irish In The Pros Harrison Smith Paying His Dues By Wes Morgan From an outside perspective, Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith has encountered little resistance in his transition from Notre Dame stalwart to NFL rookie. The 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2012 draft cracked the starting lineup immediately and had 14 tackles and two passes defended through the first two games for the 1-1 Vikings. However, whether it was the result of replacement referees calling things too tight in a preseason game or another example of how the league is putting a strong emphasis on safety, sometimes to a fault, Smith was fined $21,000 after drilling San Diego wide receiver Mike Willie on a pass over the middle on Aug. 24. “I actually appealed it,” Smith said. “I thought maybe they would lower it because I’m a rookie. “That is the one thing; you can get fined in a preseason game just like a regular-season game, no matter how much you make that week.” Smith’s real weekly paychecks didn’t start kicking in until the start of the regular season. “Everybody asks me about the biggest thing I’ve bought,” he said. “I’m like, 'A fine.' I haven’t bought anything; I’m just giving money back so far. I haven’t bought anything major, just some furniture. That fine is by far the biggest purchase I’ve made so far. “It still hurts. At the end of the day, if that’s the worst thing I have to deal with right now, I’m fine with that. It’s really not going to change how I play. “Sometimes stuff just happens when you’re on the defensive side of the ball. It happens so fast. You just have to play physical; you can’t change a whole lot or you’ll start missing plays.” Though Smith doesn’t agree with the call made on the field, or the amount of restitution required by the league office, he understands that he’s in no position to criticize replacement officials — a hot topic early on this season. “As a rookie, I feel like I don’t really have a lot to say. I just go out there, do my job and try to make plays,” he explained. “Maybe after a couple years I’ll be a little more opinionated about things. Right now, I’m just trying to make plays and help the Minnesota Vikings. “The refs, that’s just something you can’t control, so why waste your time worrying about it?” Other than the blow to his bank account, Smith’s foray into professional ball has been fairly seamless. “I feel like I know the defense pretty well,” he said. “It’s not too complicated. It’s still football, running around and making plays. Each week I think I’m getting more and more used to the pro-style game. Luckily, I don’t have to play against any triple-option teams; that’s one plus so far. “The more and more I play and get to know the team and the guys in the secondary and how they play, it starts to jell together.” The Vikings and Smith were preparing to play 2-0 San Francisco Sept. 23. At 1-1, Minnesota was tied with every other team in the NFC North Division through two weeks. “Our goal is to win the division; that’s why we’re playing,” he said. “It’s early, and there will be a lot that shakes out from this point on. This week is a big week coming up with the 49ers. A lot of people are saying they’re the best team in the league. It will be good to see where we’re at.” NFL Notes Through Sept. 19 • Wide receiver Michael Floyd, a first-round draft pick, has yet to catch a pass for the Arizona Cardinals, who are 2-0 after wins over Seattle and New England to start the year. • Seven-year veteran tight end Anthony Fasano caught two passes for 19 yards and a touchdown in Miami’s 35-13 victory over Oakland Sept. 16. He has five catches for 38 yards and the one score so far this season for the 1-1 Dolphins. • Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph had three receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown in a 23‑20 loss to Indianapolis Sept. 16. He’s up to eight catches for 102 yards and the one TD for the 1‑1 Vikings. • Wide receiver Golden Tate broke through in the second week of the season with three catches (each resulting in a first down) for 38 yards in Seattle’s 27-7 win over Dallas. The 5-10, 202-pounder, according to an ESPN report, was fined $21,000 for a ferocious blindside block on Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (6-2, 245) — a play that was not penalized at the time. It was a crucial play to protect rookie quarterback Russell Wilson on a pivotal drive that put the game out of reach for Dallas. • Defensive end Justin Tuck helped the defending Super Bowl champions get back on track with three tackles in the New York Giants’ 41-34 win over Tampa Bay. Tuck has yet to register a sack this season. MLB Player Updates Through Sept. 19 • Jeff Manship (Played at Notre Dame from 2005-08) RHP, Minnesota Twins: Made 12 relief appearances with a 0-0 record and a 7.89 ERA … Notched 12 strikeouts in 212⁄3 innings of work … Was optioned to Triple-A Rochester in August. • David Phelps (2006-08) RHP, New York Yankees: Has pitched in 30 games, including 10 starts … Stood 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA for the Yankees, who were 85-63 and held a half game lead over Baltimore heading into the final two weeks of the season … Recorded 91 strikeouts while allowing only 76 hits and 34 walks in 912⁄3 innings. • A.J. Pollock (2007-09) CF, Arizona Diamondbacks: Was called up to Arizona for three separate stints this season … Batted .250 (14 for 56) with one home run and five RBI in 22 games … Optioned to Triple-A Reno Aug. 25. • Jeff Samardzija (2004-06) RP, Chicago Cubs: Started all 28 games he appeared in … Finished the season with a 9-13 record, 3.81 ERA and 180 strikeouts in 1742⁄3 innings … Will not pitch again this year for the Cubs, who were 58-91 overall and 32 games behind National League Central Division leader Cincinnati, because he has already eclipsed the 1692⁄3 innings he pitched over his first four seasons in Major League Baseball … In his final start on Sept. 8 against Pittsburgh, he went the distance for Chicago’s first complete game of the season. • John Axford (2002-05) RP, Milwaukee Brewers: Registered 68 appearances out of the bullpen … Has a 5-7 record, 30 saves, a 4.83 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 631⁄3 innings … He is eight for eight in save opportunities in September for the Brewers, who are 76-72 and 2.5 games out of a National League wild card spot. Irish In The NFL As of Sept. 19 Name (Years At Notre Dame)Pos.Current Team Armando Allen (2007-10)RBChicago Bears Robert Blanton (2008-11)DBMinnesota Vikings Sergio Brown (2006-09)SIndianapolis Colts David Bruton (2005-08)SDenver Broncos John Carlson (2003-07)TEMinnesota Vikings Jimmy Clausen (2007-09)QBCarolina Panthers Jeff Faine (1999-2002)CCincinnati Bengals Anthony Fasano (2002-05)TEMiami Dolphins Darius Fleming* (2008-11)LBSan Francisco 49ers Michael Floyd (2008-11)WRArizona Cardinals Jonas Gray (2008-11)RBMiami Dolphins Ryan Harris (2003-06)OTHouston Texans J.J. Jansen (2004-07)LSCarolina Panthers Derek Landri (2002-06)DTPhiladelphia Eagles Trevor Laws* (2003-07)DTSt. Louis Rams Kyle McCarthy* (2005-09)SKansas City Chiefs Eric Olsen (2006-09)OLNew Orleans Saints Brady Quinn (2003-06)QBKansas City Chiefs Trevor Robinson (2008-11)OGCincinnati Bengals Kyle Rudolph (2008-10)TEMinnesota Vikings Harrison Smith (2007-11)SMinnesota Vikings John Sullivan (2003-07)CMinnesota Vikings Golden Tate (2007-09)WRSeattle Seahawks Justin Tuck (2001-04)DENew York Giants Ian Williams (2007-10)DTSan Francisco 49ers Sam Young (2006-09)OTBuffalo Bills Tom Zbikowski (2003-07)SIndianapolis Colts ^ Practice squad member; * suffered a season-ending injury

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