EAGAN, Minn. – It may have been Lewis Cine's first day on the Vikings practice fields, but he's already stepping into a leadership role.
Minnesota's first-round draft pick out of Georgia has embraced the responsibility as the team's rookie minicamp gets underway.
"I'm a natural leader. I know that right away, I don't have to do much. Just be myself," Cine told Twin Cities media members Friday. "As long as I'm communicating with the guys generally, enjoying the game, leadership comes really easy after that."
Vikings new Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said he talked to Cine about taking the helm among the players.
"I told him today, 'Hey, lead this group out here. There's a reason why you were our first-round draft pick,' " O'Connell explained. "He's got that makeup, and it comes naturally to him to lead by example. But I challenged him, 'Take the rest of that DB group under your wing. You have Andrew [Booth, Jr.] with you, you have Akayleb [Evans] and some guys there that we are going to count on to compete.'
"And let's obviously have fun," O'Connell added.
He noted that Cine and the others "practiced like pros" on Day 1.
"Sometimes you can come out here and guys are on the ground and there are collisions and you're just kind of holding on for dear life that you don't lose anybody," O'Connell said. "I thought for the most part it felt like a pro practice even though these guys are really doing it for the first time. It's big for [Lewis] because Monday we are going to roll him right in there [with the full team], and we're not going to hold back."
True to the nature Cine's already displayed in his few public interactions as a Viking, the 22-year-old doesn't seem easily intimidated.
He doesn't plan to do "too much" to insert himself into the veteran group.
"I understand the goal is they've got to take me in, but I want it to be a mutual thing or organic. I'm not going to do anything out of pocket, anything out of the ordinary," he said. "I'm going to be me, do what I do on the football field and naturally it will happen."
View photos of Vikings players at practice during rookie minicamp on May 13.
Cine noted he likes "being a regular person" and doesn't put on any facades.
"I like being just a normal person. I talk with people. I laugh. I have a great personality," he said. "But I know once I'm on the field, it's work. I have to be serious about I'm doing, what's going to feed me, my family and everyone, so I've got to be serious about what I do out there."
The Vikings first rookie minicamp practice wasn't especially demanding for players physically but focused rather on the playbook and communication aspect.
"I was real familiar with the scheme," Cine said. "Just learning new terminology is really it, but just communicating. The game of football is not a one-man game.
"It takes everybody, and I'd be lying if I told you I was on point with every check," he added. "Sometimes I got a check from [a teammate], and it made a big difference for me."
Beyond the Xs and Os, this weekend also provides the Vikings rookies an opportunity to get to know one another.
Booth, a second-round selection out of Clemson, actually had gotten to know Cine during Top 30 visits and said he "automatically clicked" with the former regional rival.
"That was another point of this being the perfect place [for me to be drafted]," Booth said. "There are great people. He's a great person. We study the plays together and everything."
Linebacker Brian Asamoah, whom the Vikings drafted 66th overall out of Oklahoma, also said he's become fast friends with Booth and Cine, with whom he's shared an anticipation of getting onto the practice field.
"We eat together, all that stuff – but [yesterday] I'm like, 'Man, we practice tomorrow.' Or today at lunch I'm like, 'Bro, we practice in an hour. I'm excited,' " Asamoah said.
"We all hang out with each other, we're all getting acclimated together, we're all getting close to each other and really pushing each other," he added. "We were getting some extra work right there [after practice], and we were talking to each other about holding each other accountable. The best is yet to come."
View photos of Vikings first round draft pick, S Lewis Cine, and his first time meeting the team at the TCO Performance Center.
Cine echoed Asamoah and Booth, saying it's been a "dope process" getting to know his new teammates.
"I feel like I'm a freshman again," he laughed, "except now it's in a big league and everyone is good, so getting to know the other rookies and every guy I'm going through the grind with is special.
"You're only a rookie once, so just getting to enjoy it, soak it in and just play the game I love," Cine added.