ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Kevin O’Connell starting slowly with Vikings, but he vows: ‘When we’re going, we’ve got to go’

The Vikings will have 11 padded practices in training camp, according to O’Connell, which is noticeably fewer than the maximum of 16 padded practices allowed by the NFL.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
New Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell looks on as training camp began Wednesday, July 27, at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
We are part of The Trust Project.

EAGAN, Minn. -- Kevin O’Connell spent most of the Vikings’ spring workouts hammering home the minor details on both offense and defense, trying to teach the basics of the new schemes without taxing his players too much. It’s a new-school approach that featured more walkthroughs than practices, with a goal of keeping Vikings as fresh as possible.

While former coach Mike Zimmer seemed to live for internal competition, and the live sessions that came along with that, O’Connell has found more value in challenging his players “above the neck” before launching into full contact.

That said, O’Connell acknowledged that “the learning stage” can only take the Vikings so far as they prepare for the fast-approaching 2022 season. The shift already has started with training camp underway at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.

“Now we move into the competition phase,” O’Connell said. “We’re building what we’re going to become, and I think that’s going to be a thing that plays out over a lot of different positions over the entire month.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota, on Wednesday, the opening day of full training camp for the team.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports

Asked about the new coaching staff’s approach so far, veteran defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson voiced his appreciation on the first day of training camp.

ADVERTISEMENT

“There’s a big emphasis on taking care of our bodies,” he said. “We want to be able to perform in January as good as we are right now.”

MORE MINNESOTA VIKINGS COVERAGE:
Pro
Winners to be announced at the NFL Honors event on Feb. 9
Pro
Jefferson led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 receiving yards in his third season. He would become the first wideout ever to win AP MVP honors.
Pro
Ultimately, hiring a defensive coordinator will be O’Connell’s call, and he has to nail it
Pro
Analyst Jason Fitzgerald, using a possible cap number of $225 million, has the Vikings now at $24.55 million over the cap, which gives them the third-least amount of room among all NFL teams.
Pro
Minnesota fired Ed Donatell on Thursday after the Vikings’ first-round playoff loss to the New York Giants
Pro
Peterson, 32, will become a free agent in March after playing the past two seasons for Minnesota
Pro
The Vikings ranked No. 31 in the NFL in total defense during the regular season. The issues continued in the playoffs, when they gave up 431 total yards to the New York Giants.
Pro
The playoff game was a microcosm of the past few months with Donatell at the helm. No pressure. No adjustments. No success.
Pro
Head coach Kevin O’Connell, still in ‘evaluation mode,’ and had no news on whether the defensive coordinator will return
Pro
He played in every game, posting 264 carries for 1,173 yards, as well as 39 catches for 295 yards.

The Vikings will have 11 padded practices in training camp, according to O’Connell, which is noticeably fewer than the maximum of 16 padded practices allowed by the NFL. As much as it’s something of an incentive for his players, O’Connell has high expectations on the days the Vikings are wearing pads.

“You guys will hear me say this phrase a couple of times: ‘When we’re going, we’ve got to go,’ ” O’Connell said. “There’s no other way than to go full-compete.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen makes a catch Wedneday, July 27, 2022, at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports

On the flip side, the Vikings still have to get things done on the days they aren’t wearing pads. The hope is that players are still learning in real time even if they aren’t hitting each other.

“We’ve got to find a way to replicate that,” O’Connell said. “Every time we step out on the grass from here on out, in my opinion, we’ve got to have a plan to accomplish real, tangible things.”

That’s on the players more than anyone else, which is something veteran safety Harrison Smith acknowledged in the buildup to training camp. He candidly noted how the setup only works if the Vikings are able to be productive on days they aren’t wearing pads.

“We have to learn in walkthroughs, and be present there, and be locked in, and get the same production out of that as we would out of going full speed in pads,” Smith said. “That’s up to us to lock in in those moments and not goof off and stuff like that. I think we have a good group of guys that will do that. You know, over the length of such a long season, and into the playoffs, there’s a lot of reps that add up, so it makes a lot of sense to not beat ourselves up too much.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith runs out onto the field Wednesday, July 27, for training camp at TCO Performance Center.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports

In the end, though, O’Connell made it clear that the Vikings will still host some physical practice throughout training camp.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We will do plenty of that work,” he said. “It’s all built on making sure by the time we cut our roster down to 53 players, we’re ready to get in preparation mode for our first opponent.”

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
What To Read Next
Pro
Matt Boldy scored a pair of goals, Marc-Andre Fleury chipped in with 28 saves, and Mats Zuccarello scored the game-winner in overtime
Pro
A strong month of January has pushed Minnesota back toward the middle of the Wester Conference race
Pro
Evason: 'He’s going to be accountable for his actions in the last game'
The former NDSU offensive lineman has started every game for the Bengals, who are one victory away from the Super Bowl.