4 Vikings players that must step up after their 2022 bye week

(Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports) Camryn Bynum
(Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports) Camryn Bynum /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /

Irv Smith Jr. – TE

It’s been refreshing to see Irv Smith Jr. put a consistent run of games together after so many injury complications in recent years. The tight end looks back to his old self from a health perspective, but there is still some rustiness to shake off in pursuit of becoming another key cog in the Minnesota Vikings’ passing attack.

The former second-round pick has flashed moments of real quality. However, Smith is catching just 62 percent of his targets and has yet to eclipse the 50-yard receiving mark through six weeks of the campaign.

One could point to the Vikings focusing more on getting the likes of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn involved. But there will come a time when Kirk Cousins needs Smith to move the chains consistently, which is a task he must be ready for.

Smith has the physical attributes to become a productive pass-catching tight end. There is also a real sense of urgency to produce the goods in the final year of his deal.

The Vikings need more from Smith, there’s no getting away from that. If he can step up his own contribution and others also maintain their own outstanding form, then this offense is going to be extremely difficult to stop with Cousins under center.