Irv Smith Jr.

Minnesota Vikings
Tight End #82
Minnesota Vikings
Tight End #82
Photo: Icon Sportswire

Irv Smith Jr. News

On track for camp

Smith (knee) didn't run routes at Tuesday's offseason practice, but he expects to be a full participant in training camp this summer, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Analysis: Smith is limited in his on-field work, three weeks after Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said the team would "be smart" about the tight end's spring workload. Smith missed the entire 2021 campaign with a meniscus injury, but it sounds like he's a big part of the plan for 2022 under a new coaching staff, especially after fellow tight end Tyler Conklin signed with the Jets earlier this offseason. O'Connell remained optimistic Tuesday, noting that Smith remains "right on schedule" in the rehab process, per Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com.

Apr 19, 2022 11:57 AM EST


Won't be rushed back

Coach Kevin O'Connell said Tuesday that the Vikings are "going to be smart" with Smith (knee) during spring practices, Chad Graff of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Smith may not handle many on-field reps during spring activities, but O'Connell said "there's no reason why he can't hit the ground running from a mental perspective." After missing the entire 2021 season due to a meniscus injury, for which he had to undergo surgery, Smith appears primed to headline Minnesota's tight end room for the 2022 campaign, as long as he can indeed return to full health. With Tyler Conklin having moved on to the Jets, only depth options Johnny Mundt (knee), Ben Ellefson and Zach Davidson can currently offer competition for the top TE gig, which may indicate confidence from the Vikings regarding Smith's recovery trajectory.

Mar 29, 2022 7:07 AM EST



Officially on injured reserve

The Vikings placed Smith (knee) on injured reserve Wednesday, Eric Smith of the team's official site reports.

Analysis: Minnesota's receiving corps has been hammered by injuries in training camp and the preseason, but Smith's health concern seems to be the most serious. On Wednesday morning, he underwent a repair of his meniscus, which is accompanied by a 4-to-5-month recovery timeline. With Smith likely out for the season, the Vikings have gotten creative with the tight end room, trading for Chris Herndon from the Jets and claiming Ben Ellefson off waivers from the Jaguars. Herndon and Ellefson will join holdovers Tyler Conklin, the likely Week 1 starter, and Brandon Dillon.

Sep 1, 2021 2:26 PM EST


Likely out for the year

Smith (knee) likely will miss the entire season, as he's facing a recovery timeline of four-to-five months after Wednesday surgery to repair his meniscus, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Analysis: The hope for fantasy managers was that Smith would get a meniscectomy rather than a meniscus repair. He now figures to miss the entire season, with his chances at suiting up perhaps hinging on Minnesota qualifying for the playoffs. For now, Smith's potential breakout is on hold, while the Vikings are left with Tyler Conklin, Brandon Dillon and recent trade acquisition Chris Herndon as their options at tight end. Conklin should get plenty of snaps Week 1 against Cincinnati.

Sep 1, 2021 8:30 AM EST


Scheduled for meniscus surgery

Smith (knee) will have surgery this week to address a meniscus injury, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Analysis: Mike Zimmer confirmed Monday that Smith will have surgery and miss the start of the regular season. The Vikings coach said he wouldn't know about a timeline until after the procedure, as is often the case with meniscus injuries. There's a chance it could be season-ending, per Chad Graff of The Athletic, but perhaps also a chance Smith is looking at something more like a four-week timeline, according to Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com.

Aug 30, 2021 9:31 AM EST



Set to miss time with knee injury

Smith is expected to need a procedure to address a meniscus injury, which is expected to sideline the tight end for the start of the regular season, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: A firm timetable for Smith's return has yet to be outlined, but his anticipated absence would free up added snaps/touches for Tyler Conklin (hamstring), when healthy, as well as Brandon Dillon and Zach Davidson.

Aug 29, 2021 11:22 AM EST


Catches both targets

Smith caught both his targets for 39 yards in Friday night's 28-25 preseason loss to the Chiefs.

Analysis: Smith hauled in a 23-yarder from Kirk Cousins to begin his night, then put Minnesota in a first-and-goal situation with a 16-yard grab a few plays later. Heading into his third season, Smith seems poised for a larger role complementing wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, putting his stock on the rise in advance of Week 1's matchup against the Bengals.

Aug 27, 2021 8:47 PM EST


Mostly quiet Saturday

Smith corralled one of two targets for three yards during Saturday's preseason loss to the Colts.

Analysis: Smith made his only marks in the box score during the Vikings' second possession of the game, which resulted in a three-and-out. And with Justin Jefferson (shoulder), Adam Thielen (thigh) and Tyler Conklin (hamstring) all banged-up, the team may opt to rest its starting offense in preseason Week 3 with the regular-season opener in mind. If so, Smith may not experience game action again until Week 1 in Cincinnati.

Aug 21, 2021 10:38 PM EST


Could see increased Red Zone role

Smith had two touchdowns in practice Tuesday and his role in the Red Zone looks to expand this season, Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com reports.

Analysis: Kyle Rudolph left in free agency in the offseason which gives Smith an opportunity for a larger role. While head coach Mike Zimmer said earlier in the summer that Smith's role may stay the same and Tyler Conklin may be the one who gets a bigger boost in opportunity as the second tight end, it's possible that Smith takes over the Red Zone role that Rudolph thrived in with 15 touchdowns between 2016 and 2017. However, Rudolph was 6-6 and Smith is 6-2, so he may not have the same efficiency. Smith's usage will be something to monitor in the preseason as Smith is well positioned for a Year 3 breakout in 2021.

Aug 4, 2021 3:31 PM EST


Seeing results from new diet

Smith says dietary changes helped him get in better shape this offseason, Mark Inabinett of al.com reports.

Analysis: The third-year pro made a strong impression on Vikings OC Klint Kubiak, who said Smith was in "phenomenal shape" when he showed up for the team's offseason program in May. Smith was only 20 years old when the Vikings made him a second-round pick in the 2019 draft, and he'll celebrate his 23rd birthday Aug. 9, one month before the start of the regular season. Given his age, draft status and Kyle Rudolph's offseason departure to New York, it's no wonder Smith is one of the popular breakout candidates at tight end this summer. Granted, he'll still be sharing an offense with RB Dalvin Cook and WRs Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, so even an every-down role won't necessarily lead to more than a handful of targets per game. Smith is anticipating a larger role, while Vikings coach Mike Zimmer believes backup tight end Tyler Conklin is the one who needs to step up. "Honestly, I don't think it's any bigger role for [Smith] whatsoever," Zimmer said. "I think it's a bigger role for Tyler Conklin."

Jul 1, 2021 8:16 AM EST


Solid sophomore season

Smith caught two of three targets for 30 yards during Week 17's 37-35 win over the Lions.

Analysis: Smith wraps up his second season with 30 catches (43 targets) for 365 yards and five touchdowns through 13 games. It's worth noting that the 22-year-old dealt with lingering groin and back issues during much of the 2020 season, missing three games entirely while having his snap count limited in three other contests. Considering that context, and the difficulty tight ends often face to develop early in their careers, Smith's relatively strong showing could result in his becoming a popular third-year breakout candidate for 2021. Of course, the fact that Kyle Rudolph remains under contract with Minnesota would seem to dampen Smith's possible upside.

Jan 6, 2021 11:44 AM EST


Finds end zone twice in loss

Smith secured six of nine targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings' 52-33 loss to the Saints on Friday.

Analysis: The second-year tight end posted season highs in receptions and targets, while also tying a personal best with his touchdown grabs of two and four yards in the third quarter. Smith has come on over the second half of the season, having recorded multiple grabs in five consecutive contests while also posting all five of his scoring catches during that stretch. The 2019 second-round pick will look to close out the season in strong fashion versus a Lions defense he found the end zone twice against back in Week 9 in a Week 17 rematch.

Dec 25, 2020 5:29 PM EST


Posts 37 yards in Week 15 start

Smith reeled in three of four targets for 37 yards during Sunday's 33-27 loss to Chicago.

Analysis: With Kyle Rudolph (foot) unavailable for the Week 15 divisional tilt, Smith posted his fifth start of the 2020 campaign while tying for third on the team in targets. Tyler Conklin turned out to be the more profitable tight end option against the Bears, however, producing three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. The Alabama product has offered an inconsistent floor and a limited fantasy ceiling in his second pro campaign, with no more than five targets or 64 receiving yards in any game this season. Smith has also been held under 25 yards on six different occasions, scoring a touchdown in just one of those instances.

Dec 22, 2020 4:35 PM EST


Could handle key role

Smith's teammate Kyle Rudolph (foot) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against Chicago.

Analysis: It's a second straight absence for Rudolph, who prior to this foot injury had been getting some extra targets while Smith missed three out of four games Weeks 10-13. The 22-year-old returned last week and caught four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in the 26-14 loss to Tampa, but his 35 percent snap share was a season low, with fellow tight end Tyler Conklin getting more playing time (57 percent) and more targets (five). Smith should see his role increase now that he's off the injury report, facing a Chicago defense that's given up the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Dec 18, 2020 12:15 PM EST


Finds end zone in loss

Smith secured al four targets for 63 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings' 26-14 loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday.

Analysis: The second-year tight end had the opportunity for more targets with position mate Kyle Rudolph (foot) out of action, but Smith actually saw just a slight bump over the 2.6 targets per contest he came into the contest with. However, Smith put the opportunities to good use, leading the Vikings in receiving yards while tying Justin Jefferson for second in receptions. Smith also garnered Minnesota's only touchdown through the air, recording a 14-yard scoring grab late in the third quarter. Smith will look to follow up the solid performance in a Week 15 matchup versus a Bears defense that's been vulnerable to tight ends this season.

Dec 13, 2020 2:40 PM EST


Available Sunday

Smith (back) is active for Sunday's game at Tampa Bay.

Analysis: While Smith puts an end to a two-game absence, fellow tight end Kyle Rudolph will take a seat for the first time since 2014. Smith has surpassed 50 yards receiving just twice in nine games this season, but with a few more targets freed up due to Rudolph's absence, he and Tyler Conklin are poised for bigger roles.

Dec 13, 2020 8:35 AM EST


Likely to play at Tampa Bay

Smith (back), who is listed as questionable, is expected to play Sunday against the Buccaneers, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Analysis: The 22-year-old is expected to take the field after missing the past two games due to the back issue, but Schefter indicated Smith could still be limited by the injury Sunday. Kyle Rudolph (foot) isn't expected to play, so even with Smith back Minnesota will be missing one of its top tight ends. Tyler Conklin is the only other tight end on the active roster, though he has only four catches for 26 yards this season.

Dec 12, 2020 9:47 PM EST


Listed as questionable

Smith (back) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers, while teammate Kyle Rudolph (foot) is doubtful, Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio reports.

Analysis: Smith returned to practice Thursday and Friday as a limited participant, after missing three of the past four games with groin and back injuries. His status may not be confirmed until Sunday morning, but he could have a larger-than-usual role in the passing game if he's active, as Rudolph isn't expected to play. Tyler Conklin will be left as the top tight end if both Smith and Rudolph are inactive ahead of Sunday's 1 ET kickoff.

Dec 11, 2020 11:42 AM EST


Limited in return to practice

Smith (back) practiced in a limited capacity Thursday.

Analysis: Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak told Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com that Smith had a "positive" day of practice Thursday and may be back "in the mix" this weekend if he looks good again Friday. "He picked up his work today so we're heading in the right direction towards Sunday," Kubiak said. With Kyle Rudolph (foot) not yet able to practice this week, it could be the Smith and Tyler Conklin show at tight end for the Vikings on Sunday in Tampa Bay.

Dec 10, 2020 11:32 AM EST


Back at practice

Smith (back) was spotted at practice Thursday, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Analysis: Meanwhile, fellow tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) remained sidelined, with the Vikings' upcoming injury report slated to reveal whether Smith was limited or logged a full session in his return to practice Thursday.

Dec 10, 2020 9:23 AM EST


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