MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said Tuesday that tight end Irv Smith Jr. had thumb surgery, but he is expected to return before the season opener.
Smith left practice early on Monday with no explanation, prompting speculation from fans and media.
“We still feel very strongly about our process to get him back and hopefully have him, barring any setbacks, available for that opener,” O’Connell said before Tuesday’s practice.
Smith, a second round pick in 2019, missed the entirety of the 2021 season after injuring his knee. In his first two season, he played backup to longtime Viking Kyle Rudolph, but showed enough flashes for the Vikings to crown him the heir apparent after cutting Rudolph.
Smith’s absence will mean more playing time in training camp and the preseason for Zach Davidson, Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt and rookie Nick Muse.
“Irv is an explosive guy who can make plays, particualrly in the pass game, but he’s a physical guy in the run game as well,” offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said. “So it’ll be hard to fill that role, but we’ll give guys a lot of reps and we’ll see how it plays out.”
The Vikings begin the regular season Sept. 11 at home against the Packers.
Source: CBS Minnesota