Minnesota Vikings Tight End Irv Smith Jr. Undergoes Thumb Surgery; Expected to Make Return For Season Opener

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Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. recently underwent surgery to repair his thumb. He is expected to still be able to suit up against the Green Bay Packers in the opening game of the season, however, his availability is still up in the air for the time being. This could be a huge year for Smith Jr. to break onto the scene as a top 10 tight end in the league. 

Previous Injury Concerns

This is not the first surgery that Smith Jr. has had to recently undergo. He missed the entirety of the 2021 season after he underwent surgery to repair his meniscus. While these injuries are out of his control, it is still something that is very concerning to an organization. With Smith Jr. appearing to be the tight end of the future for the Vikings, it is essential that he stays on the field as the backup options at the position for the Vikings are grim this year.

Could This Be a Breakout Year for Irv Smith Jr.?

If Smith Jr. is able to stay healthy and on the field this season, it could be an incredible year for him. The Vikings already have an incredible offense with players like Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Kirk Cousins at the helm. If Smith Jr. could develop into the tight-end talent that many expect him to be, the Vikings could have one of the best passing attacks and overall offenses in the entire league. Outside of injuries, Smith Jr. has absolutely no threat to have his starting tight end spot taken from him. The Vikings used a second-round draft pick to add him to the team in the 2019 NFL draft. Along with already having a lot invested into the young tight end, the Vikings have also not done much to build up the rest of their tight end room. The remaining tight ends on the current roster have a combined eleven career catches between four players. With Smith Jr. being the clear number one tight end, and has already shown a lot of potential to be an amazing pass catcher, all signs are pointing to this being a breakout year for him as long as he can stay on the field. 

How Will the Minnesota Vikings Adjust If He Misses Games?

If Smith Jr. does end up being forced to miss the season opener, the Vikings will be hurting at the tight end position. As previously mentioned, the backups behind Smith Jr. do not have much of a track record in the league. If Smith Jr. is forced to sit out in the Vikings game against the Packers, do not be surprised if they find a veteran tight end out of free agency to take over for a week over what they have on their bench. With Smith Jr. only potentially missing one week of the season, it will not have a huge impact on the Vikings’ season as a whole. However, if he does have another longer-term injury this year, Minnesota will be in a very tough spot without him.