clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Harrison Smith May Need Surgery; Possibly Out For Season

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Well, when you're in the middle of a dumpster fire, you could just as well throw more gasoline on it, am I right?

Safety Harrison Smith, one of the few competently functioning pieces of the Minnesota Vikings' defense so far this season, might be finished for 2013. He was injured in last Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers, and the diagnosis is that he has turf toe.

What is turf toe? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here's the definition from the folks at WebMD.

Turf toe is a sprain to the ligaments around the big toe joint, which works primarily as a hinge to permit up and down motion. Just behind the big toe joint in the ball of your foot are two pea-shaped bones embedded in the tendon that moves your big toe. Called sesamoids, these bones work like a pulley for the tendon and provide leverage when you walk or run. They also absorb the weight that presses on the ball of the foot.

When you are walking or running, you start each subsequent step by raising your heel and letting your body weight come forward onto the ball of your foot. At a certain point you propel yourself forward by "pushing off" of your big toe and allowing your weight to shift to the other foot. If the toe for some reason stays flat on the ground and doesn't lift to push off, you run the risk of suddenly injuring the area around the joint. Or if you are tackled or fall forward and the toe stays flat, the effect is the same as if you were sitting and bending your big toe back by hand beyond its normal limit, causing hyperextension of the toe. That hyperextension, repeated over time or with enough sudden force, can -- cause a sprain in the ligaments that surround the joint.

Typically with turf toe, the injury is sudden. It is most commonly seen in athletes playing on artificial surfaces, which are harder than grass surfaces and to which cleats are more likely to stick. It can also happen on a grass surface, especially if the shoe being worn doesn't provide adequate support for the foot. Often the injury occurs in athletes wearing flexible soccer-style shoes that let the foot bend too far forward.

So that's what Smith has.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the plan at the present time is to see whether or not the injury heals with rest. If it doesn't and Smith needs surgery, it will end his 2013 season.

The Vikings have been trying out safeties over the past couple of days, including former Indianapolis Colts' safety Joe Lefeged and Brandan Bishop, an undrafted rookie that was with the team in Training Camp.

The team also promoted wide receiver Rodney Smith from the practice squad to fill the roster spot of Desmond Bishop, who was placed on injured reserve.