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When will TE Irv Smith Jr. return from knee injury?

The Vikings tight end tore his meniscus in the final preseason game of 2021 and was sidelined for the entire season.

NFL: AUG 27 Preseason - Vikings at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Irv Smith Jr. was on track for a breakout season in 2021, heading into his third year and poised to be the undisputed number one TE after Kyle Rudolph had been released. His season was completely derailed when he tore his meniscus during the final preseason game and had to watch his team play out the season from the sidelines. The Vikings went 8-9, missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Injury news

Smith underwent surgery relatively quickly and has been in rehab ever since. He’s expected to make a full recovery in time for Vikings training camp at the end of July, so in the meantime he’s remained active and focused on rehabbing as quickly as possible. Smith stayed very much engaged with the team off the field during the 2021 season, making his presence known as he gears up for next season.

2022 Fantasy football outlook

Hoping to have the breakout season he was set for last year, Smith will turn 24 in August before the season starts. He has one year left on his rookie contract, so he’ll be looking for a big season in 2022 so he can parlay that into earning a big second contract when this one expires. Tyler Conklin filled in capably in 2021, but now especially that Conklin signed with the Jets earlier this offseason, Smith is expected to gain TE1 status in Minnesota for the 2022 season.