Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s growing pains will continue at punt returner
One position where the Minnesota Vikings have left themselves vulnerable is at punt returner. Minnesota has had a carousel at the position since Marcus Sherels retired at the end of the 2019 season and Ihmir Smith-Marsette is the latest player to step up to the challenge.
Unfortunately, the results haven’t been great. Smith-Marsette has returned four punts for 19 yards (a 4.8 average) and fumbled on a return against the 49ers. With no previous experience returning punts in a game, some may pitch for K.J. Osborn to take over. But Daniels gave Smith-Marsette a weird vote of confidence during Wednesday’s presser.
“Obviously Ihmir has all of the tools in his body of what you’re looking for in a punt returner,” Daniels said. “He’s elusive. He can stick his foot in the ground. He can make you miss. The decision-making we are still cleaning up but this is a guy who hasn’t had a lot of time on the job. He hasn’t done it before in college so we’re asking him to come out and do something that he hasn’t done. Obviously with more reps comes more confidence and with more reps comes better decision-making. He just needs more time on the job and time is narrowing down.”
A good performance on Saturday will not only calm the fears of the coaching staff but would allow Viking fans to breathe a sigh of relief. But if Smith-Marsette makes a mistake, the Vikings have to seriously consider an alternative option.