The Vikings Tight End Fears Are Now Very Real

Explained: The Unforeseen Items Learned about the Vikings in Week 1
Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

Irv Smith has been hailed as the “best kept secret” for the Minnesota Vikings after a mini breakout in 2020 and then missing the entire 2021 season with a torn meniscus. It turns out the tight end may be a secret for a little bit longer.

During the Vikings first practice in pads yesterday, Smith suffered a thumb injury that, at first, didn’t seem like too big of a deal. However, head coach Kevin O’Connell announced during his pre-practice press conference on Tuesday that Smith had to undergo surgery and will be out for the remainder of training camp and preseason.

The team expects him to be ready for the start of the regular season, but Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips did say that if he isn’t “others will have to step up”. Of course, if an injury were to happen to Smith, this is probably the best time for it to happen. We now get a real chance to see Johnny Mundt take snaps with the starters, some of the younger guys like Zach Davidson and Nick Muse can get more reps, and Smith will hopefully be ready for the season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

That said, the concerns that I’ve had with the Vikings tight end group are very quickly revealing themselves to be real. In the very first practice with pads, Smith is already seeing troubles with injury. Who is to say that this won’t continue to happen once we get into actual games?

The Vikings have placed the utmost faith in Mundt to this point, but at the end of the day, he still only has 10 career NFL receptions. There is a long way to go before we can truly feel comfortable with him as the TE1 of this football team. Behind Mundt, things get even drearier as Ben Ellefson is the only other tight end on the roster with an NFL reception. He has exactly one that he caught with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020.

As for now, all we can do is wait and see what happens with Mundt in practice and the preseason games. There have been good moments for the tight end to this point, so hopefully he can keep the good vibes going while Smith recovers. The Vikings first preseason game is on August 14th against the Las Vegas Raiders.