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Vikings defensive end Za’Darius Smith named NFC defensive player of the month

Vikings OLB Za’Darius Smith has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of October, the NFL announced today.

Smith led the NFL with 6.5 sacks and was tied for the league-lead with eight tackles for loss (Maxx Crosby) during the month of October, helping the team to a perfect 4-0 record during the month. His 22 quarterback pressures (according to Next Gen Stats) tied for the second most in October, trailing only Seattle’s Uchenna Nwosu (23), who played in one more game and 118 more defensive snaps than Smith.

On the season, Smith has totaled 8.5 sacks, tying him with New England’s Matthew Judon for the most in the NFL. The eight-year NFL veteran also leads the NFL in tackles for loss (13) and is tied for the fourth-most quarterback pressures (31), according to Next Gen Stats.

The Kentucky product’s Week 8 game vs. Arizona earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, recording seven tackles, 3.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and one pass defended, joining DT Kevin Williams as the only other Viking in franchise history to secure that stat line in a single game.

Smith, who signed with the Vikings as a free agent during the 2022 offseason, becomes the 10th different Viking to win Defensive Player of the Month honors and the first since DE Everson Griffen did so in October of the 2017 season.

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