5 players trending up early at Vikings training camp in 2021

(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Jake Browning
(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Jake Browning /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /

Irv Smith Jr. – TE

This is the opportunity Irv Smith Jr. has been waiting for. With Kyle Rudolph now on the New York Giants after an early departure from the Vikings earlier this spring, the former second-round pick can stake a claim to become the team’s new alpha at the tight end position during training camp and when the real action begins in 2021.

Smith has all the physical tools needed to become a star. His production noticeably picked up over the second half of 2020, and if the Alabama product makes additional strides this offseason, it’s going to help the Vikings and their pursuit of playoff football enormously.

Judging by how Smith is looking at camp, he’s been working hard on his body this offseason. The player is right where he needs to be from a physical standpoint, so the next step is putting it all together consistently on the field when it counts.

Again, it’s only early.

But Smith has already made a couple of eye-catching plays that only heighten excitement regarding a potential breakout year for the player.

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The best test for Smith will be handling a bigger load in Rudolph’s absence. Minnesota is also pretty high on Tyler Conklin’s potential that shouldn’t be overlooked.