View photos of the Vikings during their third OTA practice on May 23 at TCO Performance Center.
EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are working on new concepts for the offense and with new faces in the huddle.
Minnesota’s Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski is in his first year at that role, and the Vikings added multiple assistants on that side of the ball.
Although new to the Vikings, Jordan Taylor was able to help the transition during last week’s first three voluntary Organized Team Activity practices.
“I’m familiar with the offense having played for [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary] Kubiak,” said Taylor, who joined Kubiak’s Broncos an undrafted rookie in 2015 and worked his way up from Denver’s practice squad to play in 2016. “Right now, it’s just a time of getting things on film and knowing the concepts and knowing the offense. With the 1s, they want things to look as clean as possible.”
The 6-foot-5 newcomer with shoulder-length blonde hair ran with the first-team offense on Tuesday and Wednesday opposite Adam Thielen before Stefon Diggs returned to action Thursday.
“I wanted to take advantage of being able to go with the 1s and be able to hone-in on things and try to work on my technique knowing that Diggs was coming back, and I’d get bumped back,” Taylor added. “Which is fine. I knew that coming in. That’s part of knowing your role on the team and embracing it.”
It’s understandable if Taylor isn’t a known commodity to Vikings fans just yet.
He joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent out of Rice in the spring of 2015 and helped play a small part in Denver winning Super Bowl 50. Taylor ran routes for quarterback Peyton Manning as the future Hall of Famer rehabbed a foot injury. Manning thanked Taylor by getting him a custom suit before Super Bowl 50.
Taylor played in 26 games in 2016 and 2017, recording 29 total receptions for 351 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his career.
But he missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing bi-lateral hip surgeries after the 2017 season.
“They won’t let you do them at the same time, so I did one in January [of 2018] and the other in March,” Taylor said. “It’s because of the rehab … they want you up and moving.
“It’s a pretty rigorous rehab, so if I had done both of them I probably would have been in a wheelchair,” Taylor added. “There wouldn’t have been much rehab going on. They split it up a little bit.”
Back on the practice field for the first time in over a year, Taylor recently said he relishes the opportunity to go through the offseason grind with his new teammates.
“It’s easy when you’re in the middle of training camp and a 16-game season to get tired of going to practice … that’s natural for most guys,” Taylor said. “It’s tough and is physically and mentally exhausting.
“But when you sit out for a year and you’re used to doing that, you feel something missing,” Taylor said. “I’ve been anxious to get out there and try to do what I do.”
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked last week about his initial impressions of Taylor.
“He’s a guy that’s got good height, catches the ball well,” Zimmer said Wednesday. “I think he’s been running good routes. His acceleration out of the cuts has been nice.”
And although the addition of Taylor may have gone unnoticed by some in April, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins believes people will soon start to pay attention to the Texas native.
“He’s a diamond in the rough. He’s got some stuff to him. Not only does he have some juice, but he’s been on the details,” Cousins said. “If a route calls for him to get to 14 yards, he gets to 14, he doesn’t get to 13. If it’s a double move, he runs a double move with the right technique. He gets to the right spot and catches the football when it’s a tough catch.
“I love playing with people who are on the details, and he is that way,” Cousins added. “He is going to be a big asset and probably one of those players who is quietly acquired, but ends up being anything but quiet come the season.”
It’s only May, so time will tell where Taylor ends up at the conclusion of training camp and the preseason.
The 27-year-old said he plans on battling for a roster spot behind Diggs and Thielen, and said he’d also throw his name in consideration for reps at punt returner, too.
If he can keep up his strong early impression, Taylor could make an even bigger impact than expected with the Vikings.
“[I’m] just a kid from the South who grew up in Texas,” Taylor said. “What I can bring to the team, I think, is some versatility and an ability to do multiple things and take on multiple roles, whether that’s on offense or special teams. Just helping the team any way I can.
“I try to use my length to my advantage,” Taylor later added. “I’m not slow by any means, but I’m not the fastest guy either, so a foot of separation for me is what I need to use my long arms and longer frame to try and reel in the ball. I try to use that as much as I can.”