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Dallas Turner & J.J. McCarthy Recap 1st Vikings Rookie Minicamp Practice

EAGAN, Minn. – First-round draft pick Dallas Turner donned his freshly fitted Vikings helmet, a white No. 15 practice jersey and purple shorts for the first time Friday.

He and other Vikings rookie minicamp participants did not have pads by the design of Head Coach Kevin O'Connell, who did not want the team going full throttle.

Turner, whose college highlights showcased his intensity and speed, was asked about O'Connell's limits on Friday's session, and the former Alabama pass rusher grinned.

"You ever see a little kid in public and the mom has a backpack 'leash' on them?" Turner asked. "The kid wants to go out there run, play and do all this stuff, and the mom's like, 'Nope, come back over here.' It's like that. They're easing us into it, but once everyone gets here, we're going to be rocking."

Mom always knows what's best, right? Which is incredibly fitting with the arrival of Mother's Day Weekend.

O'Connell spoke to Twin Cities media members Friday following the team's first practice, and he explained the need to sometimes holds players back from charging out of the gate.

"Now, there's a reason I have pretty strong feelings [against] doing team [drills] full speed at rookie minicamp," O'Connell said. "In many ways, it's to protect the guys from themselves.

"We had kind of a golden rule of staying off the ground today, and I think we're pretty darn close to a perfect day from that standpoint," he added.

Fellow first-rounder J.J. McCarthy, whom the Vikings selected 10th overall, also spoke with media about not trying to do – or think about – too much on Day 1.

"I've [fallen] victim to the paralysis-by-over-analysis before. Where you just study way too much and then your short-term memory gets all jogged up and you're not able to perform when you're asked of," he said. "So, I'm taking it slow incrementally, and they're doing a great job of just making that process go as smoothly as possible."

McCarthy has benefited from the private workout he did with O'Connell and other Vikings coaches before the draft, as well as virtual meetings ahead of arriving in Minnesota.

"[It's had a] lot of value because they have specific footwork that they want all the quarterbacks to do. Just being introduced it to that early on has been huge because right from the get-go, once they drafted me, that's the footwork I started doing. Same thing with the concepts," McCarthy said. "A lot of familiar concepts going back all the way to the formal interview at the combine so having those opportunities to learn early on has been huge."

The former Michigan quarterback appreciates familiarity with the coaching pointers, as well as with the Midwest culture and atmosphere. But Turner, who grew up in Florida and then played for Alabama, admitted Minnesota is a whole new world.

Turner said he'd taken a few moments Thursday night to reflect on where his journey's taken him.

"It's different, for sure. I was sitting in the [Omni Viking Lakes] hotel room just looking at where I am," he said. "I was looking at the map, looking at the bordering states, and I never imagined I would be up here.

"But I'm here now," Turner added with a smile. "Ready to work, happy to be here and ready to see what Minnesota has to offer."

Turner, McCarthy and the rest of the Vikings rookies, including Minnesota's seven draft picks, undrafted free agents and players invited on a tryout basis, are grateful for the opportunity to focus fully on football.

With the pre-draft process and workouts in the rear-view mirror, they jogged onto the practice field on a breezy, 70-degree Minnesota day.

"It's back to simplicity. A schedule every day. Going out there with the guys and playing ball and just having a blast," McCarthy said. "Obviously, the pre-draft process was a lot of fun, but there's nothing like being out on the grass throwing the ball around and just building that camaraderie."

McCarthy looked relaxed in a black long-sleeved Dri-FIT, a Norseman logo on his left chest, after slipping out of the red No. 9 quarterback jersey.

Asked whether he'd been nervous entering his first NFL practice, he paused for a second before responding that he'd been "more anxious than anything."

"You're just waiting so long to get back to real football again," McCarthy said. "Being in this league, it's a dream come true as a kid. Being able to be out here with the guys and really just live your dream has been truly special. I was just trying to be present, take in the moment, and I've had so much fun out there today."