3 Vikings heading into an extremely critical 2022 training camp

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Kellen Mond
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Kellen Mond /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /

Irv Smith Jr. – TE

For the last three years, we’ve been hearing about Irv Smith Jr.‘s potential, and how he has the talent to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL. However, we’ve yet to see Smith perform at a significantly high level at any point in his career in the league since he was drafted in 2019.

Last summer, Smith was getting rave reviews during training camp, and many felt that he was heading into a breakout season. But then disaster struck when he suffered an injury during the preseason that required surgery which prevented him from appearing in a single game during the 2021 campaign.

Now Smith is back on the field and he’s got more to prove than ever before. During this summer’s training camp, he will not only need to prove that he can be the No. 1 tight end that everyone knows he’s capable of, but he’ll now also have to prove that his surgically repaired knee isn’t going to be a problem moving forward.

If Smith’s performance during training camp looks like he’s taken a few steps backward compared to last year, then there are definitely going to be more doubts about his chances to emerge as a top tight end in the NFL.