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New Beginnings Abound for First-Year & Returning Vikings  

EAGAN, Minn. — Spring is often thought of as a time for new beginnings, but multiple Vikings have that vibe as summer shifts to fall.

Whether it's a fresh start for newly acquired receiver Jalen Reagor, practice squad quarterback David Blough or even cornerback Cameron Dantzler, Sr., heading into his third pro season in a new scheme, Week 1 is a time of fresh opportunities, including for first-year Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.

The Vikings practiced Monday, and multiple players participated in the first open locker room session at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center since January 2020 when the Vikings were between upsetting the Saints and falling to the 49ers in the NFC Playoffs.

Forty players on Minnesota's 53-man roster have joined the Vikings since that playoff run, including Reagor. 

The Vikings traded for Reagor to acquire the 21st overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft from Philadelphia.

"It's just another opportunity to show what I can do, so I want to make the most of that and let everything come to me," Reagor said.

He caught 31 passes for 396 yards and one touchdown on 54 targets as a rookie. Last season, he totaled 33 receptions for 299 yards and two scores on 57 targets.

Reagor has returned 35 punts for 321 yards, highlighted by a 73-yard touchdown at Green Bay in December 2020.

Now the player picked a spot ahead of Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson will potentially face the Packers at 3:25 p.m. (CT) Sunday as one of five receivers on the Vikings 53-man roster.

"It's a blessing," Reagor said of becoming teammates with Jefferson. "He's a great player, a great receiver, and just to be alongside of him and learn from him, learn from other receivers, especially from him and Adam [Thielen], so I'm just taking in all I can, being a sponge and being a great teammate."

As far as coming to a different offensive system so soon before the start of the season, Reagor didn't seem too worried.

"I've been doing this my whole life, learning playbooks and stuff like that. If you want to do it, you'll do it," Reagor said. "As far as acclimation for me, I'm in great shape, so now it's about learning the offense and playing my part."

Blough researched potential landing spots

The Vikings did their diligence when surveying quarterbacks to add to their practice squad and recruited Blough, who had been with the Lions since 2019 after a brief stint with the Browns.

The former Purdue QB also did his homework. Blough said he spoke with Rams quarterback and former Lions teammate Matthew Stafford, who gave O'Connell a positive review.

"Once Matthew vouched and I got to talk to Coach on the phone, that was an easy decision," Blough said. "I'm excited to work with him. I've heard great things. 

"You see what Coach is building here, and being a part of that looked like it could be special," he explained. "Obviously Kirk [Cousins has] done an awesome job, and to be a part of the room with Nick [Mullens] and help [Kirk] as best we can, and be the best room we can be, be the best team we can be. I'm looking forward to that."

The past few days of leaving Detroit — and being featured with the team on this year's Hard Knocks — to hitting the practice field Monday in Minnesota have been a whirlwind.

Blough made his second career start — and first on the road — at U.S. Bank Stadium on Dec. 8, 2019. It left an impression.

"I remember walking into the huddle on the first third down and screaming as loud as I could … and not being able to hear myself think," Blough said. "I know that's a testament to the crowd here. That was a rough day, you know? They sacked me five times, I had a couple turnovers, and it wasn't pretty. I'm excited to have that crowd cheering for us."

Dantzler's confidence makes a comeback

Dantzler was pressed into a starting role in Week 1 of his rookie season.

The 2020 opener was the only other time the Vikings have hosted the Packers to start a season, and the contest was played without fans.

"It was very weird in my rookie year," Dantzler said. "No preseason, going out there in the first game against Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers."

After several bright spots and some struggles in his first two seasons, Dantzler is poised to make his 18th career start and play in his 26th career game. He was forthright in saying his struggles took a toll on his confidence, but he believes that aspect of his game made a comeback this offseason.

"I feel like I lost it a bit last year, lost my confidence, so I just gained that back this offseason. I want to have my Year 3 be better than these first two years," Dantzler said. "When I came back to OTAs, I was very confident. I just had that swagger, felt new, fresh, and I was ready to ball. I just felt like I had that swagger back."