4 positive Minnesota Vikings storylines at the 2020 midseason point

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. /
4 of 5
Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. /

The growth of Smith

Irv Smith Jr. has finally arrived. The Vikings were expecting big things from their tight end this season and after a slow start, things finally seem to be clicking into place.

There was a lot to like about the way Smith performed during his rookie campaign. The heir apparent to Kyle Rudolph showed flashes of brilliance when called upon and although targets have been hard to come by in 2020, the player has made the most of them.

His two-touchdown outing against the Lions on Sunday was another massive step in the right direction. Smith proved more than capable of getting open quickly and the Vikings should continue to make use of his supreme athletic traits during the second half of the 2020 campaign.

Rudolph is clearly being phased out of the passing game, even though he is still making a lasting impression in blocking situations. It remains to be seen whether the veteran will be around in 2021 due to Minnesota’s upcoming salary-cap predicament and this is another reason why Smith should be given a more substantial role in the team’s final eight games.

It’s clear Smith is growing in stature with each passing contest. The Vikings will always be a run-first offense for as long as Cook if performing at his current level, but the Alabama product could still become a real difference-maker down the stretch.