Irv Smith Jr. already looking like he could be best TE of Joe Burrow era

When the Cincinnati Bengals signed tight end Irv Smith Jr. in free agency, there was a glimmer of hope that he could further evolve the passing game because of his versatility.

Compared to past starters C.J. Uzomah and Hayden Hurst, Smith’s work as a pro so far suggested a more robust route tree and potentially after-catch playmaking.

So far, Smith has had nothing but praise for this Bengals coaching staff actually conferring with him about ways to get him open with routes that play to his strengths.

“Never on this level,” Smith said, according to Geoff Hobson of “This is the best coaching staff I’ve been around. I put a lot of time and effort into getting better in the offseason and they’ve seen that and it’s a blessing.”

And offensive coordinator Brian Callahan spoke on this topic too, going as far as saying Smith indeed brings a different skill set than his predecessors.

“We try to call things guys like. That tends to make it work. That tends to make a good play,” Callahan said. “Irv is good in space. He’s different than the tight ends we’ve had before. He has real ability to separate and win after the catch.”

So far, with a smart nudge from the coaching staff, Smith seems to be matching the hype that suggested big things. Should it continue, the passing attack could be even more dynamic in 2023.

For what it’s worth, one of Smith’s big highlights so far certainly suggests he’ll have a big impact on the offense.

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Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire

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