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Irv Smith shining as relationship with Joe Burrow grows, despite QB’s injury

Smith has been impressing in training camp for the Bengals.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The revolving door that has been the Cincinnati Bengals starting tight end position has seen former Minnesota Viking and offseason addition Irv Smith Jr. emerge as the team’s likely starter at the position.

While that was the expectation all along, Smith has continued to earn that job in training camp thus far, as he’s consistently been among the biggest offensive standouts for Cincinnati. He’s also done this with Joe Burrow missing most of camp thus far due to a calf injury.

Despite his new quarterback being off the practice field, Smith says his relationship with the superstar signal-caller continues to grow.

“It’s growing every day,” Smith told Elise Jesse about his relationship with Burrow. “Obviously, he’s not at practice right now. But in the meeting room, things like that, he’s very active. Just showing him that we can make plays as a group. Receivers, tight ends, running backs, and o-line...just building our confidence.

“He’s the leader of this team. And you know, we believe in him more than anybody, so it’s awesome having a guy like that in big games and stuff like that. It’s really gonna matter.”

Smith will replace Hayden Hurst, who signed with the Carolina Panthers as the team’s starting tight end this fall.

A former 2019 second-round pick out of Alabama, Smith had an injury-riddled four years in Minnesota. But when healthy, he combined to play 37 games in which he caught 91 passes for 858 yards and nine scores in a Viking uniform.

Here’s to hoping we get to see Smith unlock his full potential in Cincinnati and go on to earn a career payday next offseason.

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