Vikings can’t blame a snake bite for the loss of Irv Smith Jr.

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /

Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. is likely lost for the entire 2021 season due to an injury he sustained in a meaningless game last week.

Whenever the topic of breakout players had been brought up during the last few months, it was rare not to see Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. included in the discussion.

With the departure of Kyle Rudolph earlier this year, Smith was set to step in as the Vikings’ new No. 1 tight end this season. He looked great during this summer’s training camp and many were expecting him to be an important part of Minnesota’s offense this year.

That was at least until last week when Smith suited up for the Vikings’ preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. During the meaningless matchup, Minnesota’s top tight end sustained an injury that required him to get surgery to repair his meniscus. He is now expected to be out of action for the entire 2021 season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

Minnesota Vikings could have prevented Irv Smith Jr.’s season-ending injury

With a laundry list of bad luck throughout their history, the Vikings are frequently referred to as a snakebitten franchise. However, when it comes to Smith’s injury, the blame can’t be placed on any slithering serpents.

Instead, Minnesota can kick themselves for putting their top tight end out on the field during a pointless preseason game against the Chiefs. Whatever benefit the Vikings felt the offense would gain from Smith playing in Kansas City was never going to be close to outweighing the risk of injury that always exists in every football game.

Minnesota rested Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, and several other notable players against the Chiefs. So why didn’t they do the same for Smith? Especially since the depth behind their top tight end is significantly weak.

Some might say he was on the field to continue developing chemistry with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. But Smith was only in the game for 11 plays, so the opportunities to connect were minimal.

When one considers the lack of tight end depth Minnesota had behind Smith and how he was expected to have a large role in the offense this season, there was absolutely no reason for him to be out on the field in Kansas City.

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The Vikings had too much to lose by risking Smith’s health in a meaningless game and now they are paying the price for their disappointing decision.