After one of the healthiest runs through eight weeks in the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings are expected to be shorthanded for the foreseeable future.
Starting tight end Irv Smith Jr. and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson sustained injuries in the Vikings’ 34-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on October 30. Smith is dealing with a high-ankle sprain, while Tomlinson is dealing with a right calf injury.
Head coach Kevin O’Connell offered an injury update on both starters, calling them week-to-week after both players underwent MRIs on Monday.
Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson took that as a sign the team is not optimistic about either player’s status for Week 9 against the Washington Commanders compared to a “day-to-day” designation.
“#Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said it’s a ‘week to week type scenario’ for injuries to Irv Smith Jr. and Dalvin Tomlinson. So that seems to be an indicator neither is in line to play at Washington,” Tomasson tweeted on October 31.
Irv Smith Jr’s Future With Vikings Takes a Hit
A perennial breakout candidate since he set a franchise record for rookie tight-end receptions, Smith has yet to live up to his billing.
The 2019 second-round pick was expected to take the reigns as the team’s top tight end last season after Kyle Rudolph’s release, but a knee injury he sustained in the offseason led to season-ending meniscus surgery in 2021.
Smith was on track to assume the same seat this season but broke his thumb in August. He did make a quick recovery and has not missed time this season, tallying 22 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns this season. Smith was on pace to set career highs in receptions and receiving yards, but this injury may derail his chances.
On the final year of his rookie contract, Smith will reach free agency this offseason if Minnesota doesn’t opt to re-sign him. Smith’s availability has been the biggest concern surrounding offering the Alabama prospect a second contract, however, his production hasn’t warranted an excessive deal.
Former teammate Tyler Conklin joined the New York Jets this season on a three-year, $21 million deal worth roughly $7 million annually, in range of what Smith could fetch in free agency.
Vikings Should Be Buyers at the Trade Deadline
With less than 24 hours before the NFL’s trade deadline, the Vikings should be buyers as one of the NFC’s contenders this season.
Minnesota sits in second place in the NFC with a 6-1 record behind only the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (8-0). The Vikings haven’t been blowing out the competition, currently riding a five-game winning streak where every game was decided by a single possession.
But, the team has stuck to what O’Connell calls “winning in the margins,” while touting they need to keep improving under their first-year coach.
It may be too early in the O’Connell-Adofo-Mensah tenure to go all-in, but Minnesota’s fast start to the season should warrant a move that could help their current chances this season as well as its future.
The Vikings’ shopping list should include cornerback, defensive end, defensive tackle or wide receiver.