USA TODAY Sports Weekly

MINNESOTA

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Storyline of the week

Primary tight end injured: The Vikings had most of their key offensive players stay relatively healthy in 2020. This offseason, starting TE Irv Smith Jr. has a meniscus injury and is expected to have surgery. He will miss at least the start of the season. The Vikings needed Smith to be their primary tight end after Kyle Rudolph departed for the Giants. Tyler Conklin is next in line. He has 32 receptions for 329 yards and a touchdown over 47 career NFL games. Smith has 66 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons.

Rookie watch

For the second preseason game in a row, fifth-round pick Ihmir SmithMarse­tte had a decent showing in the return game. He averaged 25.3 yards on his three kickoff returns against the Chiefs. Minnesota desperatel­y needed to find better kick and punt returners this offseason. Based off of the preseason, Smith-Marsette could be the player for the job. He averaged 28.7 yards on kick returns with two touchdowns over four seasons (53 returns) at Iowa.

- Jack White, Vikings Wire

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