Vikings Boss Kevin O’Connell reveals five big things spot J.J. McCarthy did in his first Minicamp Practice…

EAGAN, Minn. — Practice was long over Friday afternoon when quarterback J.J. McCarthy started running gassers across the field. The assumption was that McCarthy was working his way back into shape after an exhausting pre-draft process that ended with the Minnesota Vikings selecting him No. 10 overall.

That, however, wasn’t quite the reason, McCarthy said afterward. As it turns out, McCarthy had jumped right into a friendly competition with the defensive players he faced on the first day of the Vikings’ rookie minicamp. The stakes were simple: During a 16-play drill, only three (or fewer) of McCarthy’s passes could hit the ground. If that happened, the defensive players would run. If four or more hit the ground, he would have to run.

“If you guys saw,” McCarthy said with a smile, “I was out there running.”

Despite a few incompletions and one interception during 7-on-7 drills, McCarthy’s first day in a Vikings uniform went smoothly. It was not by accident, as he has been immersed in their scheme since before the draft. During a private workout with Vikings officials in early April, coach Kevin O’Connell went through portions of his Day 1 install as a way to gauge McCarthy’s schematic aptitude.

Thomas and Knowles were helpful for the rest of the offense, and Thomas was often targeted in the 7-on-7 periods, catching five passes from McCarthy.

“I was joking with [Thomas] out there because we really, we’re one year to the day of the first time we got on the grass with him – just the growth and the development and the mindset that he has now and really being a calming presence out there,” O’Connell said. “Malik Knowles is a guy we were really excited about and really knew kind of what we were looking at from the standpoint of a medical redshirt-type year coming off of that Bowl game injury he had – and he gets, whatever it’s gonna be, 15, 20, 25 extra reps before we get out there with the main group in a few days, and I think that’s exciting.”

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