More Clarity on Harrison Smith’s Replacement vs. DET

Vikings Offer Update on Lewis Cine's Career
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Safety Harrison Smith will not play for the Minnesota Vikings versus the Detroit Lions on Sunday due to the NFL’s concussion protocol. And according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, rookie Lewis Cine and Josh Metellus will carry the load somewhat equally in his stead.

Pelissero tweeted on Sunday morning, just hours before kickoff, “First-round pick Lewis Cine and Josh Metellus will split snaps in place of S Harrison Smith, who’s out with a concussion.”

It remains unclear who will formally start, but in all likelihood, Metellus will be on the field during the first defensive possession for Minnesota. Otherwise, the Vikings social media team may have made a bigger deal about Cine’s first career start.

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) breaks up a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Neither man has started an NFL game in his career, so regardless of the official starter, it’ll be a first-of-its-kind moment for either Cine or Metellus. Harrison Smith logged a career-high 13 tackles in Monday night’s loss to the Eagles but succumbed to a concussion late in the game. Smith’s absence will be the first non-COVID-related injury to keep him away from the field since 2016.

The Vikings drafted Metellus in the 6th Round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s played in 33 career games, mainly on special teams. Through three years, Metellus has played 80 snaps on defense and 598 special teams plays. He didn’t play defensively against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 but experienced 10 snaps on defense during Week 2.

Predictions for Vikings Rookies
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) performs a drill at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Cine is the long-term plan for Minnesota at safety. The aforementioned Smith is 33 years old, and when he retires, Cine figures to slide into his starting spot. Minnesota plucked Cine from Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft after a controversial trade with the Lions — who the Vikings play on Sunday. Detroit traded up 20 spots to land wide receiver Jameson Williams, who hasn’t yet played due to lingering injury. Cine, among others, was part of the trade haul for Williams-to-Detroit.

Known as a violent, hard-hitting safety, Cine conducted a fairly quiet training camp and preseason. Incumbent starter Camryn Bynum retained his starting job opposite Smith, leaving assignments like Sunday’s open for Cine. But Bynum and Cine will be on the field at the same time in Week 3.

Cine is 22 years old, and Metellus is 24.

The Lions are six-point underdogs entering U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 3, and Minnesota has downed Detroit eight times in the last nine games.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).