MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings have been dealt their first injury setback of the season with knee surgery scheduled for tight end Irv Smith Jr.
The procedure on Smith's meniscus will likely sideline him for at least a few games. The timetable for his return won't be known until after the surgery this week by team physician Dr. Christopher Larson.
Smith was poised for a breakout year in a tight end-friendly scheme following the departure of veteran Kyle Rudolph. Tyler Conklin will be the leading man at the position for now. Coach Mike Zimmer says the depth beyond Conklin is “not good.”
Conklin has 32 career catches for 329 yards and one touchdown. His lone touchdown came last season when he posted a career-high 19 receptions for 194 yards.
"I think everything in my career has kind of happened for a reason," Conklin told reporters Monday. "Sometimes, you know, you get thrown out there and you're not prepared, but I think in my situation, I got to learn from a good vet in Kyle Rudolph ... I got to ease into it and basically play a starting role in the last four to six games last year, and I got to go and have a strong offseason."
Behind Conklin on the depth chart is Brandon Dillon, who has played in four games over the past two years, and rookie fifth-round pick Zach Davidson.