Kevin O’Connell Wants to Keep His Rookie

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The third and final preseason game was a mixed bag for the Minnesota Vikings. All starters and even some backups didn’t dress, so only developmental players and roster bubble guys received game reps. Some of them did quite well, for example, tight end Ben Sims or safety Jay Ward, who led the team in tackles and forced a fumble on a blitz. Others struggled, like the third-string offensive line.

Kevin O’Connell Wants to Keep His Rookie

But not only was the whole game a mixed bag; so was also the performance of a rookie. Quarterback Jaren Hall did some great things with his arm and legs but mixed in some bad reps as well, like a bad interception or the lack of awareness when he stepped over the line of scrimmage and still threw the ball, resulting in a turnover on downs.

wants to keep
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Head coach Kevin O’Connell praised his first-year player and almost guaranteed his roster spot:

Across the board I thought he came out starting really sharp with that first group and that first drive; got some runs off, had some keepers, different things to get him in a rhythm and then we got the sudden change touchdown when he throws it to Abram (Smith).

I just thought the start of the football game was really indicative of where his preparation was and then it’s going to be hard anytime you start the substitution processes and guys are maybe in there that haven’t been in there or haven’t been with certain combinations up front or skill guys but things that stuck out to me is his athletic ability and how he applied it.

I would definitely like to keep him around. My philosophy when you’re going to draft a quarterback is you pour into him on a daily basis. ‘Development’ is a huge word, but I love the fact that we got him as many reps as we did this camp.

I feel like Jaren has a really, really good understanding of our offense, where he can grow, where his comfort level can grow, and hopefully hit the ground running the next opportunity he gets.

Kevin O’Connell about rookie QB Jaren Hall
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Indeed, Hall started to slow down when Saturday’s starters left the game, and the backups subbed in for them. Hall played with the second team for the first time this preseason because Nick Mullens sat the game out to allow Hall that kind of work.

The plan was to insert free agent addition Jordan Ta’amu into the lineup, but O’Connell wanted to give Hall more reps, and he played the full game. Throughout the contest, Hall completed 16 of 27 passes for 178 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception, adding 21 yards on the ground.

O’Connell is really invested in getting the best out of Hall, and as a former NFL backup quarterback, he wants to give Hall the best shot for his career. It surely sounded like the head coach expects Hall to make the team, and he also said that he envisions him to be the emergency QB in the upcoming season, and for that, he must be on the 53-man roster.

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The rookie looked much more comfortable and poised than in previous games, although he is far from a finished product. His touch on passes and his athletic running ability are intriguing skill sets.

Kirk Cousins is the starter and will be backed up by Mullens, but Hall can position himself with solid performances in practice to compete for the starting role if the organization decides to move on from Cousins in the next offseason. That could be “the next opportunity he gets” that O’Connell referred to.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt