One of the most prominent themes of this offseason for the Minnesota Vikings has been the expectation that third-year tight end Irv Smith Jr. would be taking a big step forward in 2021. With Kyle Rudolph having departed for New York, Smith is set to step into the role of #1 tight end in an offense that features them prominently.
Unfortunately, the breakout appears to be getting a bit of a delay.
#Vikings starting TE Irv Smith Jr. is expected to undergo surgery for a meniscus injury that will sideline him for at least the start of the regular season, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 29, 2021
Exact timetable TBD for now, but Smith seemed poised for a breakout season and now it’s on hold.
Close, Personal Friend of The Daily Norseman Tom Pelissero™ is reporting that Smith is expected to undergo surgery on his meniscus and is expected to be sidelined for “at least the start of the regular season.”
Smith played in Saturday’s preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, picking up 39 yards on just two catches. There was no indication during the game that he had been injured, at least not that I heard (I was watching the NFL Network broadcast that featured the Chiefs play-by-play), and I don’t remember it being mentioned on Twitter anywhere by the team’s official account or anything.
This puts the team in a bit of a bind at the tight end position with final cuts coming on Tuesday. The #2 tight end, Tyler Conklin, has missed much of the preseason with injury issues of his own. Outside of Smith and Conklin, the depth chart for the Vikings at tight end consists of third-year player Brandon Dillon, 2021 fifth-round pick Zach Davidson, and undrafted rookie free agent Shane Zylstra. That’s not a good thing for an offense that, at least last season, played more two-tight end sets than any other offense in the NFL.
Hopefully the time that Irv Smith Jr. misses because of this injury will not be substantial and he can get that breakout season underway sooner rather than later.