The Minnesota Vikings won Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, but Irv Smith Jr. left the game following an ankle injury. As has been the case often throughout his career, he’ll now miss time, and Kevin O’Connell’s squad will need to figure out a way to move forward.
On Sunday afternoon, the Vikings saw Irv Smith Jr. make four catches and rack up 28 yards. The talented pass catcher has long been seen as a breakout type, but his inability to remain on the field has consistently dogged him. After a late start to the season due to an unrelated injury, Smith Jr. will now miss a matter of weeks thanks to a high ankle sprain.
The Vikings were without Smith Jr. all last season after the young tight end suffered a torn meniscus. There was hope that a more progressive offensive approach under O’Connell would utilize and exploit Smith Jr.’s athleticism, but unfortunately, it’s been more of the same due to time missed.
On Sunday, Johnny Mundt did find the end zone on a one-yard reception, and he now represents the lone tight end option on the 53-man roster. Ben Ellefson remains on injured reserve through Week 9, which leaves only practice squad players Jacob Hollister and Nick Muse as options.
With the trade deadline looming at 3 pm CT on Tuesday, November 1, the time to swing a deal utilizing that line of player acquisition is dwindling. Former Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph has not been a factor for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he could present a possible solution. Tyler Conklin is unlikely to be dealt from the New York Jets, but former Penn State standout Mike Gesicki could probably be obtained from the Miami Dolphins.
The tight end position is not extremely integral in O’Connell’s offense, but being so thin at the position is hardly ideal either. The Vikings would prefer not to have another wasted move similar to that of Chris Herndon a season ago, but having already explored the wide receiver market, adding to the passing game seems like a desirable move.
We should find out if there’s an immediate answer to the Smith Jr. injury news at any minute.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.