Kevin O'Connell expects Irv Smith Jr. to be "full-go" at training camp
The 2021 season was a lost one for many reasons. Perhaps the biggest being the loss of starting tight end Irv Smith Jr.
Primed to have a breakout season as the top tight end on the depth chart in his third year, Smith Jr. was a shining star during training camp, including a banner game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Unfortunately, he suffered a meniscus tear that would either require him to be out for 4-6 weeks with surgery that could hinder him long-term or 4-6 months for a better outlook.
The Vikings chose the latter and lost him for the 2021 season.
However, going into training camp, all systems appear to be a go for the fourth-year product from Alabama, via the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling.
Being that we are 10-plus months removed from surgery, you would expect that Smith Jr. should be 100 percent ready to go, but you can’t be too careful with knee injuries, especially with a dynamic player in the open field.
The 2022 season looks primed to be his breakout year. New head coach Kevin O’Connell comes over from the Los Angeles Rams, where Tyler Higbee put up a nice stat line of 61/560/5 over 15 games. These should be similar numbers for Smith Jr. with the potential to be even higher with the added element of speed in contrast to Higbee.
With the Vikings set to run a lot of 11 personnel this year, Smith Jr has the ability to take advantage of potential mismatches in the open field.