3 Takeaways from Vikings’ Press Conference on Monday

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Wednesday, December 6th, 2023. The Vikings had a quarterback debate off the bye week in 2023, and O'Connell announced incumbent starter Joshua Dobbs would play in Week 14 at the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Minnesota Vikings will step up to the plate in nine days and select a 2024 draft class, and fans mostly expect the organization to identify and choose a quarterback of the future.

3 Takeaways from Vikings’ Press Conference on Monday

Minnesota said goodbye to Kirk Cousins after six seasons in March, as the veteran passer took his services southward to the Atlanta Falcons to the tune of four years and $180 million.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Meanwhile, head coach Kevin O’Connell, tight end T.J. Hockenson, and Brian O’Neill stood in front of reporters on Monday, answering questions for a bit over 30 minutes. Here’s what fans learned from the event. They’re ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = most important).

3. A Kicker Competition Is on the Way

Detroit Lions placekicker Parker Romo walks off the field after practice during training camp at Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility in Allen Park on Monday, July 24, 2023.

New kicker Parker Romo will not inherit a job without competing. Head coach Kevin O’Connell made it crystal clear that another kicker is on the way — probably a rookie.

“It’s a pretty easy evaluation when you put one or two guys competing against each other, possibly more, where you can put them in tougher situations, high-pressure situations, even in front of a training camp crowd or their teammates in the spring with some circumstances on making a kick or missing a kick and you can really start to see how guys respond,” O’Connell told reporters.

Vikings fans are used to spring and summer kicking competitions, and with Greg Joseph now playing for the Green Bay Packers, Romo will have a kicking teammate before too long.

O’Connell continued, “I do want to have a competitive situation. I just think with how close games are in this league, and I know everybody loves going for fourth-down conversions as much as possible, but points are still a very, very important metric in a league as competitive as ours, and any time you can feel confident putting someone out there and knowing they’re going to ring the bell and get you three points that could be the difference in the game, I think it’s critical.”

Via the draft or undrafted free agency, get ready to learn the identity of a second Vikings kicker.

2. Hockenson’s Recovery Timeline Up in the Air

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

When asked about his availability for Week 1, Hockenson replied, “Anything is possible.”

Hockenson was lost for the season thanks to a dirty hit by Detroit Lions defensive back Kerby Joseph in December, and fans have wondered since when Hockenson will return.

The team will likely proceed gingerly with Hockenson’s recovery, so fans should start to brace for a Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list assignment for the tight end in 2024. That would sideline Hockenson for at least four or six games.

3. Justin Jefferson Absent

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Like last year, Justin Jefferson did not attend voluntary workouts on Monday as he and the Vikings’ front office continue to hash out a long-term extension. “I’ve had a lot of great dialogue with Justin. My hope is we can get him around the team. Want him here as much as we can have him, but also understand there’s a lot of factors involved,” head coach Kevin O’Connell told reporters.

Jefferson is expected to become the richest wide receiver in NFL history before too long. The deal could fetch between $30-$35 million annually.

O’Connell added, “Obviously such a special player, but it goes beyond that, especially this time of year because of just the energy and the flat-out way he comes in this building and goes to work and his teammates respond to him.”

Jefferson will be signed for the long haul, but he evidently means business by skipping workouts.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.