Vikings Activate Irv Smith Off IR, Rule Harrison Smith Out for Week 18

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Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, it’s officially time for the redemption tour for a Vikings tight end. Saturday afternoon saw the Vikings activate Irv Smith, their fourth-year tight end, off injured reserve on Saturday ahead of their Week 18 game against the Chicago Bears. This move has been expected ever since Minnesota waived rookie tight end Nick Muse.

Smith has been on IR since exiting Week 8’s game against the Arizona Cardinals with a high ankle sprain. To that point in the season, he had recorded 22 receptions, 176 yards, and 2 TDs. This was supposed to be Smith’s “breakout” season, but injuries have once again derailed that.

Even so, head coach Kevin O’Connell has been hinting for weeks that Smith will be part of the Vikings plan for the playoffs, and this activation off IR confirms that as the case. Considering the Vikings made the mid-season trade to acquire T.J. Hockenson, it will be interesting to see how the team plays the two together.

Vikings Activate Irv Smith Off IR, Rule Harrison Smith Out for Week 18
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith is very likely to be playing in a different uniform in 2023 because of that very trade, but if he can make some plays during the playoffs, it could make his next contract much more lucrative.

Additional player news includes the activation from IR for Jonathan Bullard. His presence on the defensive line will be a positive for a Vikings team that needs to get much more production out of its defensive front. Bullard has not played since Week 13, and so far in 2022, he’s recorded 23 tackles, including 5 TFLs. The Vikings will also elevate LB Ryan Connelly as well as G Kyle Hinton.

Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift (32) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jonathan Bullard (93) during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, the Vikings also ruled out Harrison Smith from Week 18 because of some knee soreness that developed during the week. The veteran safety has been a key safety blanket for the Vikings defense this season and throughout his career. It seems very likely that this move is simply to keep the 33-year-old safety healthy for the playoffs rather than this being a cause for concern moving into the future.

Minnesota has made it clear that they want to win this game, but there’s also a very good chance that we could see starters rotating in and out. Because of that, ruling out the Vikings safety for any reason is no surprise. The Bears and Vikings are scheduled to kick off on Sunday at 12 PM CST.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.