Irv Smith Jr.

Cincinnati Bengals
Tight End #82
Cincinnati Bengals
Tight End #82

Irv Smith Jr. News

Slated to assume key role

Coach Zac Taylor indicated Monday that he believes Smith can move into the pass-catching tight end role previously handled by Hayden Hurst, Kevin Patra of reports. "Yeah, we think he can come in and play that role for us," Taylor noted of Smith. "There's always competition in that room, but that's the vision that we have for Irv to come in there and fill that role that Hayden had for us."

Analysis: With Hurst, who recorded a 52-414-2 receiving line on 68 targets over 13 regular-season appearances in 2022, now with the Panthers, Smith has an opportunity to absorb a good portion of the Bengals' vacated tight end targets, assuming he can stay on the field this coming season. Since playing all 16 games as a rookie in 2019, Smith has missed contests in each of the past three years. During the 2022 campaign, an ankle issue limited the 6-foot-2, 240-pounder to eight games and 25 catches for 182 yards and two TDs on 36 targets. When healthy, however, Smith's athleticism and pass-catching ability should prove to be assets to a Cincinnati offense helmed by QB Joe Burrow, which also returns the quality wideout trio of Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.

Apr 18, 2023 10:26 AM EST

Three catches in return from injury

Smith gathered in all three targets for 14 yards during Sunday's 29-13 win over Chicago.

Analysis: It was Smith's first game since suffering a high-ankle sprain in an Oct. 30 win over the Cardinals. He'll work as the second tight end behind T.J. Hockenson, but Sunday's game showed he could have a role in the playoffs. He started at tight end with T.J. Hockenson when the Vikings opened in a two-tight end sets. He won't get many targets, but he may get significant snaps.

Jan 9, 2023 10:45 AM EST

Comes off IR

Smith (ankle) was activated off injured reserve Saturday.

Analysis: The trade-deadline addition of T.J. Hockenson has limited the impact of Smith's inevitable return, but the multi-year starter is still a perfect complement in two-tight end sets and likely could be a factor in the Vikings playoff push. Prior to suffering the ankle injury in Week 8, Smith has tallied 22 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns as arguably the team's third option behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

Jan 7, 2023 2:19 PM EST

To be activated

The Vikings plan to activate Smith (ankle) from injured reserve before Sunday's game against Chicago, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: Smith will return as the team's No. 2 tight end, behind trade addition T.J. Hockenson, with the talented duo potentially inspiring coach Kevin O'Connell to use more two-TE sets and fewer looks with three wide receivers or FB C.J. Ham. However it plays out, Smith was designated to return from IR last week and apparently will make it back for the final game of the regular season as a tune-up for the playoffs.

Jan 6, 2023 11:05 AM EST

Designated for IR return

The Vikings are designating Smith (ankle) to return from injured reserve, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Analysis: The team now has 21 days to activate Smith to the roster or else place him back on IR for the rest of the season. He'll presumably rejoin the Vikings for the playoffs, if not one or both of the final two games of the regular season, though in a secondary role behind standout trade acquisition T.J. Hockenson.

Dec 28, 2022 11:22 AM EST

Progressing, but still out Week 16

Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell said Thursday that Smith (ankle) is progressing, but the tight end will remain on injured reserve for Saturday's game against the Giants, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "He looks really good," O'Connell said of Smith, who has resumed working out off to the side with trainers during practice. "Hopefully we can get him back with us soon."

Analysis: O'Connell remains optimistic that the tight end will play again this season, but until the Vikings designate him for return from injured reserve, Smith won't be eligible to practice with the team and will continue to rehab off to the side. If Smith is able to make it back for Week 17 or 18 games against the Packers and Bears, respectively, he would likely be in store for a limited role behind top tight end T.J. Hockenson, whom the Vikings acquired shortly after Smith suffered his high-ankle sprain Oct. 30.

Dec 23, 2022 10:03 AM EST

Could return from IR soon

Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell said Thursday that Smith (ankle) is close to returning from injured reserve, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Analysis: Because Smith hasn't been designated for return from IR and thus hasn't resumed practicing with the Vikings since suffering a high-ankle sprain in an Oct. 30 win over the Cardinals, he won't be a candidate to play Saturday against the Colts. However, Tomasson notes that Smith was able to get some work off to the side during Thursday's practice, perhaps hinting that the tight end could be ready to mix into drills at some point next week. Even if Smith is able to return to action at some point over the final three games of the regular season, he'll likely find himself in a much smaller role after the Vikings added a more established tight end in T.J. Hockenson to the roster in the wake of Smith's injury.

Dec 15, 2022 11:59 AM EST

Spotted jogging Thursday

Smith (ankle) was present for the Vikings' practice session Thursday and was spotted jogging off to the side under the supervision of the team's training staff, Alec Lewis of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: The Vikings haven't designated Smith for return from injured reserve and are unlikely to do before the end of the week, but the fact that the tight end was at the team facility taking part of cardio work suggests that a return to practice could soon be in the offing. Smith was able to avoid surgery after suffering a significant high-ankle sprain in the Vikings' Oct. 30 win over the Cardinals, though head coach Kevin O'Connell said that he anticipated the 24-year-old would miss 4-to-8 weeks in total while recovering from the injury. Smith is just over five weeks removed from sustaining the high-ankle sprain and looks to be tracking toward the midpoint or longer end of that timeframe. Whenever he's cleared to play, Smith will likely have to settle for a bit role on offense, as trade-deadline pickup T.J. Hockenson is poised to dominate the snaps at tight end so long as he's available.

Dec 8, 2022 1:36 PM EST

Should avoid surgery

Coach Kevin O'Connell expects Smith (ankle) to avoid surgery and gave a timeline estimate of four-to-eight weeks Friday, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Analysis: The Vikings hope to get Smith back at some point in December or January, though his role won't be what it was if new teammate T.J. Hockenson stays healthy. The Vikings traded for Hockenson at the trade deadline after Smith injured his ankle in a Week 8 win over Arizona, with initial reports suggesting the latter would miss 8-to-10 weeks. O'Connell is apparently a bit more optimistic but still expects Smith to be out a while. The tight end was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

Nov 4, 2022 10:38 AM EST

Surgery possible

Coach Kevin O'Connell said Wednesday that Smith may need surgery on the high-ankle sprain he sustained this past Sunday against the Cardinals, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Analysis: Smith is getting a second opinion to determine whether a procedure is necessary, but despite initial reports that his recovery timetable will be 8-to-10 weeks, O'Connell told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he doesn't have precise time frame. Ultimately, Smith is in danger of missing most of the rest of the regular season, which likely spurred the Vikings to acquire T.J. Hockenson from the Lions on Tuesday. As long as Smith is sidelined, Hockenson and Johnny Mundt will be the main tight ends in Minnesota.

Nov 2, 2022 12:56 PM EST

Goes on IR

The Vikings placed Smith (ankle) on injured reserve Tuesday.

Analysis: Smith's move to IR became a foregone conclusion after Adam Schefter of ESPN reported earlier in the day that the 24-year-old will likely be sidelined for 8-to-10 weeks due to the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Sunday's win over the Cardinals. In response to Smith's upcoming absence, the Vikings acquired one of the NFL's better tight ends in T.J. Hockenson from the Lions, and Hockenson will likely remain atop the depth chart for the rest of the season so long as he's healthy. With that in mind, Smith doesn't look as though he'll be in line for a substantial role if he's able to make it back from IR during the final few weeks of the season.

Nov 1, 2022 11:27 AM EST

Set to miss 8-to-10 weeks

Smith is in line to miss 8-to-10 weeks as a result of the high-ankle sprain that he sustained during Sunday's win against the Cardinals, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Analysis: With such a recovery timeline, Smith inevitably will be placed on injured reserve by the Vikings, who sought to replace him via a trade for T.J. Hockenson from the Lions on Tuesday. The timing perhaps was fortuitous for the team, but the player himself now will be hard-pressed to see action before the end of the regular season. While Smith is set for a lengthy rehab, Hockenson and Johnny Mundt will be Minnesota's tight ends for the foreseeable future.

Nov 1, 2022 10:20 AM EST

Will miss time with ankle sprain

Smith is expected to miss multiple weeks after he was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain following his early exit from Sunday's 34-26 win over the Cardinals, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Analysis: The Vikings made it apparent Tuesday that they anticipated Smith would miss time, as the team acquired another established starting tight end in T.J. Hockenson from the divisional-rival Lions. Hockenson should immediately step in as the Vikings' new No. 1 tight end beginning with this Sunday's game in Washington, and his superior production through his first three-plus seasons in the NFL suggests he'll retain a spot atop the depth chart whenever Smith returns. Before suffering the ankle injury, Smith had been a serviceable secondary target in the Vikings' passing game, having turned in a 22-168-2 receiving line through the first seven games of the season. However, his injury and the addition of Hockenson means that Smith is a drop candidate in nearly every redraft league.

Nov 1, 2022 9:44 AM EST

Deemed week-to-week by HC

Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell said Monday that Smith (ankle) looks "week-to-week," Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Analysis: This news isn't all that surprising given Smith is believed to have a high-ankle sprain, which normally sidelines players for multiple weeks. However, it is noteworthy because it's the first official indication that Smith is unlikely to play Sunday against the Commanders. The talented tight end is still awaiting MRI results, so the extent of the situation isn't known yet, but if Smith misses time, expect Johnny Mundt and Jacob Hollister to garner increased roles in Week 9.

Oct 31, 2022 12:55 PM EST

High-ankle sprain feared

The Vikings' initial belief is that Smith suffered a high-ankle sprain during Sunday's 34-26 win over the Cardinals, Jeremy Fowler of reports.

Analysis: Smith will undergo further testing including an MRI on Monday, but if a high-ankle sprain is confirmed, the tight end will likely be forced to miss time. Johnny Mundt and Jacob Hollister would stand to hand increased roles and hold down the tight end position if Smith indeed needs to spend some time on the sideline. Smith has logged three straight games with exactly four catches, which he translated into 28 receiving yards versus Arizona on Sunday.

Oct 31, 2022 9:44 AM EST

To have MRI on ankle

Coach Kevin O'Connell said Smith sustained an ankle injury during Sunday's 34-26 win versus the Cardinals and will undergo an MRI, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Analysis: For the third game in a row, Smith hauled in exactly four passes en route to 28 yards, placing him fourth on the Vikings in terms of yardage Week 8. Having said that, he emerged from the contest with a health concern, with the upcoming evaluation potentially providing some clarity as to the extent of the injury.

Oct 30, 2022 2:26 PM EST

Finds end zone in win

Smith brought in all four targets for seven yards and a touchdown in the Vikings' 24-16 win over the Dolphins on Sunday.

Analysis: The athletic tight end recorded his second consecutive four-catch tally, and although he produced his second-lowest yardage total of the season, he partly made up for it with a one-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. The score was Smith's second of the season,, and after sitting out all of last season following knee surgery, the 24-year-old has has been encouragingly consistent while producing an 18-140-2 tally following a blanking in the opener.

Oct 16, 2022 3:39 PM EST

Makes four catches

Smith caught four of five targets for 42 yards in Sunday's 29-22 win over the Bears.

Analysis: Smith trailed only starting wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen in targets, helping him post a season high in receiving yards. While that feat offers encouragement ahead of Week 6's matchup versus the Dolphins, Smith's overall stock remains relatively modest.

Oct 9, 2022 1:56 PM EST

Three receptions Sunday

Smith had three receptions for 23 yards on four targets in Sunday's win over New Orleans in London.

Analysis: Smith again didn't get the start at tight end, but got more snaps (43) on on offense than starter Johnny Mundt (20) and ran more routes (30 to 5). Despite Smith's meager production, he was third on the team in targets which should bode well for better games ahead.

Oct 3, 2022 12:39 PM EST

Only two catches in Week 3

Smith caught two of six targets for 32 yards in Sunday's 28-24 win over the Lions.

Analysis: Smith took a step back after breaking out with five catches and a touchdown in Week 2. Third receiver K.J. Osborn led the way with 73 yards and a touchdown against Detroit, and Smith's role will likely remain inconsistent moving forward in a Minnesota passing game with a lot of mouths to feed.

Sep 26, 2022 12:37 PM EST

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