Irv Smith Jr. – TE
Many Vikings fans were excited to witness the return of Irv Smith Jr. to the Vikings lineup. He missed the entire 2021 season, and then was lost for the preseason. When healthy, he has proven to be a dangerous weapon in the passing game, and there were expectations that he would make some big plays in this game.
Smith’s return to the lineup was nothing more than a slight whimper. He had two targets on the day, and the one pass that looked like a catch was overturned as it clearly came out. Smith was basically a non-factor all game long, and the other tight ends on the roster Johnny Mundt, and Ben Ellefson were clearly bigger parts of the game plan.
Smith’s lack of use probably was by design. It’s probably safe to assume the Vikings were easing him back into the lineup and wanted him to get his legs under him before getting him too many targets. The other factor was that Minnesota simply didn’t need him, as Justin Jefferson drew the majority of the targets as he was left open most of the day.
Smith’s role on this offense will vary game to game. There will be times he will need to be relied upon, and there will be others where other weapons will be utilized. While that may be the case, there is no doubt that Smith’s return to the Vikings was a disappointing one.