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Vikings Tight End Underwent Surgery On Tuesday

Irv Smith catches a pass for the Vikings against the Saints.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 25: Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith (84) catches a pass against New Orleans Saints for a touchdown on December 25, 2020 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Irv Smith Jr. suffered a setback on his road back to the field, but it might not derail his comeback.

The Minnesota Vikings tight end, who missed all of 2021 recovering from a meniscus injury, left Monday's practice with an undisclosed ailment.

Head coach Kevin O'Connell said Smith underwent thumb surgery on Tuesday. However, he's still expected to be ready to start the season.

The No. 50 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft showed some promise to start his career. While he didn't receive many receiving opportunities out of the gate, the Alabama alumnus has secured 73.3 percent of his targets.

Smith began to emerge as a major red-zone threat for Kirk Cousins, scoring all five of his 2020 touchdowns in his last six games played.

With longtime Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph gone and last year's starter, Tyler Conklin, now playing for the New York Jets, Smith has an opportunity to seize a larger role in 2022. He could nicely round out an offense led by star running back Dalvin Cook and elite receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. 

The Vikings will open the season by hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 11.