Vikings WR Received a Shout-Out from His Head Coach

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The rookie minicamp was the first on-field time for the newest Minnesota Vikings. J.J. McCarthy was the obvious highlight, throwing his first passes in Vikings gear and getting his first up-close coaching from head coach Kevin O’Connell and QB coach Josh McCown. All seven drafted rookies and 17 undrafted rookies were present at rookie minicamp.

Vikings WR Received a Shout-Out from His Head Coach

In addition to those 24 guys, the Vikings hosted some tryout players. The one player emerging from the tryout players was tight end Sammis Reyes. Also on the field were last year’s rookies Henry Byrd, Malik Knowles, Thayer Thomas, and DeWayne McBride.

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O’Connell mentioned wideout Knowles during his press conference, and the coaches are apparently thrilled to have him on the team after his rookie season was wasted because of injury.

Malik Knowles is a guy we’re really excited about. We really knew what we were looking at from a standpoint of a medical redshirt type of year coming off of that Bowl game injury he had. He gets whatever it’s going to be—15, 20, 25 extra reps before we get out there with the main group here in a few days, and I feel like that’s really exciting.

Kevin O’Connell

In five seasons at Kansas State, Knowles caught 127 passes for 1,867 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for 440 yards, four more scores on the ground, and three as a kick returner.

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In his pre-draft process, Knowles couldn’t participate in athletic testing because of a PCL injury he suffered in his final collegiate game. He may have been a late-round draft choice if healthy.

The Vikings signed him but waived the receiver in July with an injury designation. Because of NFL rules, a player with an injury designation who goes unclaimed on waivers reverts to his old team and is stashed on IR for the entire season.

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Knowles can be a deep threat, and his speed allows him to compete as an outside receiver and kick returner. He will try to claim a roster spot in training camp. Minnesota’s wideout crew has some openings behind Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison.

K.J. Osborn left in free agency and joined the New England Patriots. Punt returner Brandon Powell emerged in 2023 as a contributor on offense and is currently on pace to land the WR3 gig. 2022 rookie Jalen Nailor was slowed down by injuries last year, but his promising debut season will give him a shot.

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Knowles must be one of the top six receivers to have a chance of making the team. In addition to the previously mentioned players, Trishton Jackson, N’Keal Harry, Lucky Jackson, Trent Sherfield, Thayer Thomas, and undrafted rookies Devron Harper, Ty James, and Jeshaun James are his competition.

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