Vikings safety Harrison Smith expected to be named to Pro Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will be represented by three players at the Pro Bowl next Sunday.

Safety Harrison Smith will be named to the game for the first time, with his trip becoming official after the NFC Championship Game, according to two league sources. Smith, who returned his fourth career interception for a touchdown and finished with two picks and 1.5 sacks in 13 games, will join Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end Everson Griffen.

Smith's 2015 season wasn't his best, statistically, after he missed three games and almost all of a fourth one because of knee and hamstring injuries. But his 2014 season -- in which he tied for third in the league with five interceptions and posted three sacks -- helped raise his profile around the league, and this season Smith was a linchpin of a Vikings defense that allowed the fifth-fewest points in the league, standing out in deep coverage, in the box as a run-defender and on the edge of the line as a pass-rusher.

The Vikings already picked up Smith's fifth-year option for 2016, and the Notre Dame product is in line to be rewarded with a contract extension in the near future. He'll cap his fourth NFL season with a long-awaited honor.