5 riddles Mike Zimmer must solve at Vikings training camp in 2021

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /

Who is TE1?

Now that Kyle Rudolph is no longer on the team, the Vikings have to figure out just who their primary tight end option will be moving forward. At least from the outside looking in, the smart money is on Irv Smith Jr. filling the role, but things might not be as cut and dried as they appear.

Smith’s had some really nice moments over his first two seasons, even though he might not have reached the level expected as yet. There is still plenty of time for that and the Alabama product should be more involved now Rudolph is turning out for the New York Giants.

However, judging by Mike Zimmer’s comments about Tyler Conklin’s potential for growth, it wouldn’t be a big shock to see the player get some meaningful reps and plenty of targets in 2021.

This sort of thing normally gets decided at camp. Minnesota could also adopt the mindset of putting both on the field to give Kirk Cousins more options in the passing game should the situation dictate.

Smith is the frontrunner and has all the athletic attributes to become a real star at the position with more responsibility on his shoulders. However, if Conklin can make some targets count in the preseason, the former second-round pick will have a real fight on his hands in the immediate aftermath of Rudolph’s departure.