Mike Zimmer: 'There's a possibility' Harrison Smith could return this year

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Though he wasn't practicing again for the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday, safety Harrison Smith still has a chance to return from a sprained ankle this season, coach Mike Zimmer said.

Smith didn't play against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday and was not seen during the brief open portion of the Vikings' practice on Wednesday. Asked about Smith's return, however, Zimmer said, "There's a possibility, even though the report was erroneous from before. He's doing good."

The Pioneer Press reported last week that Smith had a Grade 3 high ankle sprain, saying "it's not out of the question" Smith could miss the rest of the season. Zimmer, however, pointed to Smith's resiliency when asked about the report last week, and on Wednesday, he said, "Yeah, he [wrote] this high Grade 3 ankle sprain, and he was out for the year, and all that stuff, whoever did that report."

Anthony Harris, who played in place of Smith against the Jaguars, had an "up-and-down day," as Zimmer put it.

"The touchdown pass [to Bryan Walters in the fourth quarter] was his, and he made a tackle on the third-and-one on the checkdown to the back," Zimmer said on Monday. "He was a little late in one of the runs getting over there. We had pressure that he should have been there, and then he missed a tackle."

The Vikings would need to see if Smith could move effectively on his ankle, after he left the locker room with his foot in a walking boot following the team's Dec. 1 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. If Smith were to a return, a comeback against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 24 might be more likely than against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, but the Vikings are still holding out hope their safety could play.