5 Vikings players with the most to prove in Week 1 vs. the Bengals

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Ihmir Smith-Marsette
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Ihmir Smith-Marsette /
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Minnesota VIkings
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Tyler Conklin /

Tyler Conklin – TE

As of right now, Tyler Conklin is the No. 1 tight end for the Vikings. With the injury to emerging star Irv Smith Jr, it is now Conklin who leads the tight end group that has more questions than answers among them.

Minnesota recently traded for Chris Herndon, and it is presumed by some that he will be the lead tight end once he is brought up to speed. But a good outing by Conklin in Week 1 could delay that decision.

Conklin is now in his fourth season with the Vikings in which he has been buried behind Kyle Rudolph and Smith for the majority of his career. With only 43 career receptions, there really isn’t much tape to try and see if Conklin is up for the challenge as the No. 1 guy. But he’ll get his shot in Minnesota’s first game of the season.

If Conklin can have a solid game that would be a great confidence boost going forward, as this is a very shaky tight end group that has very little production throughout its ranks.

Though the Vikings have not targeted their tight ends frequently in recent years, having a reliable player at the position is a nice safety blanket for quarterback Kirk Cousins. Conklin has a great chance to separate himself from the rest of the pack in Week 1. Now it’s just time to see if he takes advantage of it.

If he can stand out on Sunday, that could put Minnesota’s coaching staff in a tough position moving forward. But it’s better to have a tough decision between good options rather than picking the lesser of two evils.