EAGAN, Minn. — The sight of the nearly 300-pound man zooming up and down the street in a Vikings helmet was surely a sight to behold.
Jalyn Holmes' pounding the pavement showed his commitment to his offseason training regimen, which was centered around a position switch from defensive tackle to defensive end.
And with most of the country shut down during the pandemic, Holmes had to improvise to make sure he got his work in.
"It was a big issue at first, just trying to get into a gym. Because I was in Ohio, a lot of things were closed so you couldn't really get access," Holmes said. "So, I had to kind of sneak around. I did a lot of cardio in my neighborhood by just running full speed up and down the street early in the morning.
And his neighbors? Surely they had a reaction to his workouts?
"Yeah, they found out [I play in the NFL]," Holmes said with a laugh. "I was out there like 7 in the morning with my helmet on, just running full speed down the street.
"They used to sometimes make jokes with me sometimes, or I could see them watch me from the window or whatever," Holmes added. "I had to do what I had to do."
The work paid off, as Holmes said he ate healthier and "got my smoothie game up over the offseason," while going from roughly 300 pounds to 277.
His offseason centered around a chat he had with Andre Patterson shortly after the Vikings playoff run came to an end in January.
Holmes, a fourth-round pick in 2018, had spent the first two seasons of his career at both defensive tackle and defensive end, the latter of which he played at Ohio State.
Patterson suggested the idea of moving Holmes back to defensive end the majority of the time, while still getting a few reps as an interior pass rusher.
"That was something we had talked about right after the season was over," said Patterson, now the Vikings Co-Defensive Coordinator and defensive line coach. "I had a long discussion with 'J,' and I told him I was going to look to put him back out there, and also still get him some reps at 3-technique.
"The guy has a unique skill set, and I'm always trying to find a way to put guys in position to help them use their talents the best and help us win football games," Patterson said. "He's still going to get reps at 3-technique, as well as playing out at defensive end."
Holmes turned his attention toward working on his "get-off" the line of scrimmage to help with the move.
"I feel like that was something that had to be perfected, and I'm still trying to perfect that, especially being on the edge now," Holmes said.
Holmes was on board with the move, partly because he's seen the transition work with one of his Vikings teammates.
Minnesota drafted Ifeadi Odenigbo as a defensive end in 2017, but tinkered with him as a defensive tackle in recent years.
Odenigbo stuck at defensive end on a nearly full-time basis in 2019, and blossomed in a big way with 7.0 sacks and a fumble returned for a touchdown.
Patterson said his hope is that Holmes follows the same path.
"I think it was more that [Jalyn has] played defensive end for us in NFL games since he's been here. And when he's done that, he's been productive, too," Patterson said. "It is kind of what happened with Ifeadi. I spent an entire offseason playing Ifeadi at 3-technique, and he played two preseason games at 3-technique. All of the sudden, we had an injury one preseason game and I kicked him back out to defensive end. He played like hell on fire.
View photos of Vikings players from Verizon Vikings Training Camp practice at TCO Performance Center.
"So, that experience of being in the black hole of the defensive line — where things happen so much quicker at D-tackle and it's so much more violent down there — then you move back out to defensive end and it's a little bit slower. Your reaction time is so much faster because it's so much quicker inside," Patterson said. "That's what I want to see with 'J,' if the same thing happens after he spent the whole year down inside playing 3-technique. Now when he moves outside to defensive end, things happen a lot slower, but because he had to react so much faster as a defensive tackle, it made his reaction time happen faster."
Holmes, who recovered a key fumble in the road playoff win in New Orleans, said he's happy to be back at a position he is familiar with.
"I played defensive end my whole collegiate career, so it's like trying to figure out how to ride a bike again," Holmes said. "Which is not too hard after a while, but I feel very comfortable out there playing.
"I low-key missed it, but I'm willing to do whatever to make this team better, so if I've got to go out to end sometimes, go back to 3-technique sometimes, I'm willing to do whatever to see this team win," Holmes added.
Holmes' presence at defensive end has been needed in the first week of pads has Danielle Hunter has missed practice the past few days.
And it's been Holmes who has taken the Pro Bowler's spot with the first-team defense, where the 24-year-old said getting constant reps against Brian O'Neill has been invaluable.
"It's definitely a blessing. It's growth, a lot of growth going on, and I just feel like I'm trying to attack this year as best as I can, mentally, physically," Holmes said. "I'm back at defensive end, and that's something that I've played my entire collegiate career, so I'm just trying to do whatever to make this team better, and whatever I can do to contribute I'm willing to do it."