5 most concerning Vikings position groups heading into Week 1

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Tyler Conklin
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Tyler Conklin /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Tyler Conklin and Brandon Dillon /

Tight End

When Irv Smith Jr. was unexpectedly lost for the season, the Vikings’ offense took a major hit. He was in line for a huge role this season to be the third option in the passing game.

When Minnesota found out he’d be lost for the majority of the year, they traded a fourth-round pick to the New York Jets for tight end Chris Herndon. Herndon is still young with plenty of upside, but just like Smith, he has yet to realize his full potential in the league.

The problem isn’t what this unit will look like in midseason. The issue is what it’ll look like this week against the Bengals.

Tyler Conklin will step into the No. 1 tight end role, and while he’s had success in that spot in the past, he missed a huge chunk of the preseason dealing with a hamstring injury. The Vikings have recently brushed that injury aside, saying he was kept off the field for precautionary reasons.

If he’s truly ready to go, then Minnesota’s offense will be fine, and Conklin will have a role on Sunday, especially in the red zone. If he isn’t healthy, then the No. 1 job would fall to Herndon, who simply isn’t familiar enough yet with this offense, or Brandon Dillon, who has also isn’t ready for such a prominent role in the offense.

The Vikings’ tight end position is one that is currently in flux. They need a few more weeks to fully come together as the unit that is used this week against Cincinnati could see fewer targets and be on the field for fewer snaps than normal.