Kevin O’Connell: Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. has surgery on thumb injury

Irv Smith Jr. left the practice field Monday on the first day of full pads for the Minnesota Vikings at training camp, and headed inside TCO Performance Center.

It wasn’t long before he was back on the field, but he watched the rest of practice on the sideline without a helmet. Vikings’ coach Kevin O’Connell said Tuesday the team’s top tight end suffered a thumb injury that required surgery. Smith will likely miss the remainder of training camp, but the hope is he’s ready for Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 11 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

It’s another setback for Smith, who missed all of last season after tearing the meniscus in his knee during a preseason game at Kansas City. The fourth-year tight end was poised for a breakout year in 2021 after making 66 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two seasons.

Smith spoke last week at the start of training camp about how excited he was to be back on the field.

"Now I’m back on the field and moving around. It feels good, I missed the game of football. It’s just a blessing to be back out here and be back healthy, have some fun and compete out here," Smith said.

His latest injury appears to be more minor, but it’s also now doubtful Smith gets competitive reps against somebody not in a Vikings’ jersey before Week 1. It also means tight end Zach Davidson will get a majority of the first-team reps in training camp.

Monday, Johnny Mundt filled in for a period during Smith’s absence, and Eric Kendricks picked off a pass from Kirk Cousins headed Mundt’s way.