Last season, Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn didn't play a single snap on offense.
Things look like they'll be quite a bit different in Year 2 for Osborn, though, who played 67 offensive snaps for Minnesota in Week 1.
Dane Mizutani of the Pioneer Press wrote about the young receiver's "emergence as a playmaker" for the Vikings after an impressive offseason. Mizutani wrote:
Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn spent one season at the University of Miami and quickly learned to never run out of bounds after making a catch. Like ever.
The coaching staff called it "Poodle" if someone did so without being hit, Osborn explained, and it carried a consequence of having to push a weighted plate at practice the following day. This encouraged players to fight for extra yards no matter where they are on the field.
Mizutani pointed out that "the lesson learned paid off for Osborn" in the Vikings season opener at Cincinnati. Minnesota fell in overtime, but a big play by Osborn on third-and-24 enabled the Vikings to move down the field for their first touchdown of the game, a catch by Adam Thielen.
That was the start of an impressive day for Osborn. He finished the day with seven catches for 76 yards, which included a big conversion on third down early, and more importantly for the Vikings, a big conversion on fourth down late.
While the play along the sideline was probably more worthy of a highlight-reel, Osborn's catch on the final drive of regulation was far more clutch. He lined up in the slot on fourth-and-4, got open across the middle and gobbled up a bullet pass from [Kirk] Cousins to move the chains. A few plays later, kicker Greg Joseph nailed a 53-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime.
Mizutani wrote that Osborn's step forward this season "could make the Vikings a lot more explosive" in 2021.
He quoted Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who said the following:
"I think he played well. He'll keep improving. I think he's done a good job. But getting some game action, and making some plays in a game, I think that will help him."
The Athletic previews Vikings Week 2 matchup
The Vikings Week 1 loss was a tough one, but as Osborn said earlier this week, it's important to "flush" that game and move on to Week 2.
Minnesota's second game of the season promises to be a challenge as well; the Vikings are headed to Arizona this weekend to face the Cardinals, who handily defeated Tennessee in the season opener.
The Athletic's Zachary Pekale previewed the matchup and stated that Arizona is the favorite heading into Sunday's 3:05 (CT) game. Pekale wrote:
There was good reason to wonder which version of the Cardinals would show up in Week 1. Well, it was the group that proved it belonged among the league's top offenses during the first half of 2020. Arizona cruised 38-13 over Tennessee as Kyler Murray threw for 289 yards and scored five total touchdowns (one rushing).
But it was the Cardinals defense that really stood out. Arizona forced three turnovers and held Derrick Henry to 58 rushing yards. Oh, and then there was Chandler Jones, whose five sacks make him a way-too-early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Cardinals.
Zygi Wilf donates $5 million to alma mater 'to train social change agents'
Vikings Ownership has been fully supportive of players' social justice efforts and pushes for change.
The authenticity of that support was again demonstrated recently when Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf made a $5 million donation to his alma mater, New York Law School, "to support its social justice advocacy and defray the cost of law school for public interest-minded students."
Karen Sloan of Reuters.com wrote about the donation that was made through the Wilf Family Foundations:
The downtown Manhattan law school announced the gift Tuesday, saying it would "profoundly expand" the work it does in the public interest sphere and fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in that area.
Wilf said the following of the donation:
"As an alumnus of (New York Law School), I know the students are committed to creating a fairer, more just world, and we look forward to seeing what these scholars accomplish as part of this program. It is also essential that we continue to diversify the legal field, and we hope this program will attract a diverse range of students who can bring new perspectives and insights to the legal profession."
According to Sloan, "The Wilf donation will also establish a series of scholarships intended to help the law school recruit and retain diverse students who are committed to public interest law careers."
Each year, 10 New York Law School students will be named Wilf Scholars and will receive renewable scholarships as well as funding for summer fellowships and post-graduate fellowships. The Wilf Scholars will work with New York Law School faculty on civil rights issues and will also have the chance to work with external civil rights organizations with ties to the school.