EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings tight end Irv Smith, Jr., is returning to practice Wednesday, the team announced before taking the field.
Smith, who missed all of last season with a meniscus injury, returned to action this offseason but underwent thumb surgery in early August. The tight end rehabbed in time to play for the Vikings Week 1. But after suffering an ankle injury against the Cardinals Week 8, Smith landed back on Injured Reserve.
Minnesota designating Smith to return opens a 21-day window in which he may participate in all team activities without counting against the 53-man roster. He may be activated at any point during those three weeks, at which point he would be eligible to play in the Vikings remaining games, including the postseason.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 14, 2023.
In addition to returning Smith to practice Wednesday, the Vikings (12-3) activated running back Ty Chandler from Injured Reserve. Chandler was placed on the list Oct. 11 after suffering a thumb fracture; he was designated for return on Dec. 7.
Minnesota's active roster had been at 52 players, meaning no corresponding roster move was required upon Chandler's activation.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell was asked last week about Smith's progress.
"He was out here working with the trainers again today (Thursday), flying around. He looks really good, so I'll get with [General Manager] Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah] and try to figure out what that looks like for Irv," O'Connell told media members. "As I've said to you guys before, just so much credit to him for how he's attacked this process. Hopefully we can get him back with us soon."
Wednesday kicked of the first of Minnesota's three practice days this week before facing the Packers (7-8) in Green Bay Sunday. Kickoff is set for 3:25 p.m. (CT).