EAGAN, Minn. – Jaylen Twyman doesn't take football for granted.
In fact, there was nothing about Friday – a sunny, breezy, blue-skies day in Minnesota – he took for granted. Twyman knows he's fortunate to be safe and healthy, let alone suiting up for his second NFL offseason.
Twyman was one of several victims wounded during a shooting in Washington, D.C., last June, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time while leaving his aunt's house.
"I don't remember too much about it; I kind of blacked out in the situation," he said.
The defensive tackle was shot four times; though all were considered flesh wounds, Twyman spent the entirety of his rookie season on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list.
Having been working in the Vikings offseason program for veterans and eligible to also participate in this weekend's rookie minicamp, he was all smiles coming off the practice field Friday.
"It's amazing. I'm just soaking it all in," Twyman said of reflecting on his journey back to the game he loves. "Building it brick-by-brick, day-by-day, just trying to get better.
"I'm stronger than I've ever been. It wasn't nothing but a little knick-knack, so I'm good," he told Twin Cities media members. "I'm definitely relieved, and it's a blessing – I give the glory to God. I'm just happy to be back."
View photos of Vikings players at practice during rookie minicamp on May 13.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell wasn't with Minnesota last season but already has been impressed by what he's seen from Twyman.
"We've seen him on the grass with the rest of our [veteran] guys the last three weeks. I thought it was a good example of a guy like that being able to put on that Vikings helmet and run out here in a little more of a practice structure," O'Connell explained. "I thought he did a great job. He's been one of those guys that you love the look in his eyes so far through Phase 1 and Phase 2 [of Organized Team Activities].
"He'll be a guy we're watching closely as we get into Phase 3 and his continued ascent throughout this offseason program," O'Connell added.
Twyman said he "tested his strength" recently and is happy with where he's at.
"I put a little bit of weight on the bar, and I felt pretty good," he said with a grin.
Twyman is fully healed physically and feeling in-tune mentally, as well.
Though being sidelined for his first NFL season was less than ideal, he took advantage of learning all he could about the playbook and from his elder teammates.
Twyman especially credited defensive tackles Dalvin Tomlinson and Armon Watts for mentoring him along the way.
"Sitting back and learning from [them], it's helped me. I've benefited from watching those guys and getting those mental reps," he said.
Minnesota's entire defensive roster will be learning a new system under Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell, but Twyman doesn't mind the extra homework.
"Being around Coach Donatell and [defensive line coach Chris] Rumph and Coach K.O. (O'Connell), it's been super fun," Twyman said. "I'm just so happy to learn the defense, and now that I've got more time on my hands, being that I'm here for a whole offseason, it's been fun to learn the playbook and understand why we do certain things."