Adapting and adjusting to Training Camp and the world in the NFL is one of the biggest things that rookie's have to deal with after being drafted. For Vikings rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. he has the fortunate ability to tap into his father's playing experience and time in the NFL.
Irv Smith Sr. was a first round draft pick by the New Orleans Saints in 1993 and finished with 15 career touchdowns for the Saints, 49ers and Browns.
For Irv Smith Jr. he's ready for a straight up competition with the numbers that his dad posted during his career.
"We compete with a lot of different things," Smith shared last week. "This is definitely something that I want to compete with him about. He'll believe I'll have a better career. I just got to go and do it myself."
The stories from camp were also something shared to help prepare the younger Irv.
"He said that when he was with the Saints, they had to go all the way to Wisconsin [for camp]," junior explained. "I was like, 'why would you go all the way to Wisconsin?' He was like, 'you don't ask, you just go.'"
Irv Smith Jr. met the media earlier this week, you can see his full session in the player below and the transcript is also included thanks to Vikings PR...
Vikings Tight End Irv Smith Jr.
Q: How has it been to take information from Kevin Stefanski and process it quickly?
A: Each coach, they bring a different aspect. They tell us different things that we need to improve on, little things that they see. This game, the NFL, is about the little things. I just had to take those in and bring that aspect to help the team.
Q: Has the game been slowing down for you?
A: Yeah, it has. It’s still a learning process for me coming in as a rookie but I’m trying to do everything to be a pro, whatever I can do to help the team.
Q: What’s your biggest focus during these three days before the whole team gets back?
A: Every day I try to take one thing to work on. I really try to pride myself on being a complete tight end and just learning the plays every day, so just coming in every day with that mindset, coming in and trying to focus on one thing and get better.
Q: What are you learning about Kirk Cousins?
A: It’s awesome having these three days to come in and just have that time with Kirk (Cousins) and the other quarterbacks to gel and just get better connections with. We haven’t played much together so we have to get the timing down and it’s going well so far.
Q: How important is it to get to know them as guys to help with the chemistry on the field?
A: Just having everybody here now, coming up everybody is going to be here, so especially with the rookies everybody being here, I try to be a leader to those guys and just come in and show them how I work and how we need to work as a team.
Q: Where have you seen the greatest improvements?
A: Everybody is starting to gel together some more. Everybody is new. I was new. We just met each other so now we’re trying to become a team and it’s something that Coach (Mike) Zimmer preaches on us and Coach (Kevin) Stefanski, they preach that on us – be a unit. That’s what we’re trying to do each and every day.
Q: What were your lasting impressions from mini camp?
A: It’s definitely something that in the offseason I tried to—after coming off mini camp, I got to see where I need to improve on. In that month I had off I tried to just get with my trainer and really just focus on the little things that I need to improve on so come camp time, I’ll be ready.
Q: When you’re going through install, have you noticed plays that seem designed to emphasize your strengths?
A: Yeah, definitely. Coach Stefanski, he does a great job of putting everybody in the right position. He’s not going to do something that’s going to hurt the team or put somebody out of place. He goes with our strengths, and our weaknesses are something that we can improve on. But he definitely did a great job of implementing our strengths.
Q: What skills of yours do you believe will translate best to the NFL?
A: I feel like as a route runner, I can get open against man coverage very well. And just trying to read the zones and find the sweet spots to get open.
Q: You came from a program at Alabama that has produced a lot of NFL players. Is there anything you heard about the NFL while you were there that has proved to be true?
A: Playing at Alabama we had a lot of guess that played in the league, so they would come back and tell us different [things]. Everybody wanted to know how it is in the NFL, because that’s ultimately everybody’s goal. So I would just ask them what the biggest difference. In college, the game is fast, but in the NFL it’s even faster. And everybody has speed, so that’s what coaches are looking for. I say definitely the speed of the game, for sure.
Q: Where you able to see that at minicamp?
A: Oh yeah, for sure. Everybody is fast. Harrison Smith is breaking on the ball super fast, all the DBs. Just trying to improve on that. It’s crazy how fast the game is.
Q: Do you have any motivation to out-do what your dad did in his career?
A: Definitely. You know, we compete with a lot of different things, no matter what it is, so that’s definitely something that I want to compete with him about. He’ll tell you though, he’ll believe I’ll have a better career, I just got to go and do it myself.
Q: Are you familiar with his numbers?
A: Not exactly. I think he had like 10 touchdowns, maybe more. Hopefully I can get that this season.
Q: Has your dad shared any training camp stories with you?
A: Yeah. He said that when he was with the Saints, they had to go all the way to Wisconsin [for camp]. I was like, “Why would you all go to Wisconsin?” He was like, “You don’t ask, you just go.” I thought that was funny, but it’s nice, we have this beautiful facility to come to, and I can’t wait to see the fans out here and watch us work.
Q: Has he told you stories about the practices?
A: Yeah, he said it was rough. We got it easy now, that’s what he says. But I just mess with him. The game is different than then. They try to look out for us and our bodies. But yeah, he said that he used to have to get an I.V. between practices, all kind of stuff. It’s good that we don’t have to do that now.