Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. will be sidelined for the start of the regular season with a torn meniscus injury per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. He will undergo surgery and the timetable for his exact return is unclear.
A third-year standout out of Alabama, Smith was poised for a breakout season within the Viking offense following the departure of veteran Pro Bowl TE Kyle Rudolph to the New York Giants. He had a productive rookie season in 2019, catching 36 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns. He was even more productive in just 13 games in 2020, where he caught 30 receptions for 365 yards and five touchdowns.
Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota staff will now have to scramble to figure out their tight end depth before their season opener at Cincinnati on September 12. Tyler Conklin is already injured, so they’ll have to turn to Brandon Dillon, Zach Davidson, or Shane Zylstra to fill the gaps.