EAGAN, Minn. — Bisi Johnson had quite the debut in Purple on Friday night, catching two passes for 35 yards in the preseason opener against New Orleans.
The highlight, of course, was an 18-yard touchdown catch from Sean Mannion with just over six minutes left in the second quarter of an eventual 34-25 Vikings win.
Johnson’s score came on a double move, as he sprinted six yards before turning back like he was going to catch a simple hitch from Mannion.
Instead, the wide receiver turned and bolted past Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson before leaping to haul-in Mannion’s pass before tumbling into the end zone.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski said he was glad to see Johnson’s recent success in practice translate to the field.
“It was good to see. We talk so often out here about making plays on the football,” Stefanski said. “And our quarterbacks, when there’s a matchup that asks for it or dictates it, they will give our guys a chance to go make a play.
“And on Bisi’s touchdown in particular, that was really good to see him planting his feet, going up and going to get the football,” Stefanski added. “He’s done a nice job, he’s still a rookie and making rookie mistakes, and we’re going to keep coaching him really hard, but I think you certainly see some progress from that young man.”
Johnson explained Monday how he made the catch, and the mentality he had with him when took the field for his NFL debut.
“There have been a few plays in practice where I didn’t go up and make that play,” Johnson said. “Coach Stefanski has been talking that, ‘If the ball is in the air, it’s ours.’ I went in with that mindset and completed the catch.
“It was definitely a setup. Coach even said I might have sold it too hard,” Johnson added. “I caught the corner slipping … he was looking at the quarterback … and I just took off.”
Stefanski had plenty of praise for the seventh-round pick out of Colorado State who seems to be climbing the depth chart in recent weeks.
That includes a consistency in route running, a skill that Johnson can improve by watching the likes of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs every day in practice.
“Yeah, that’s part of route running, is there is a savviness to it, and it’s not going to look exactly the same every time,” Stefanski said. “Certainly to the defender, you want to show them a picture of ‘This route looks like that route,’ and I think that double move, in particular, he had a little bit of a flair with that one.
“I think he may have been watching some of the older guys run that one,” Stefanski added. “But certainly, we work really hard on the techniques and route running, and then there are some movements that these guys are blessed with, and that was one of them.”
Johnson was back to work Sunday and Monday after his strong debut, as the Vikings are now preparing for a home preseason game against Seattle at 7 p.m. (CT) Sunday.
The contest will be a chance for Johnson to build off Friday, and take another step in his progression early in his NFL career.
“It’s definitely a big confidence boost, especially being a rookie and everything,” Johnson said. “It was something I needed, but the work doesn’t stop. I have to keep going.”
Quote of the Day
“I think his attention to detail is the biggest thing. When he’s had opportunities, he’s been able to step up and play at a high level for us. If you look over the course of his career since he’s been here, he’s started quite a few games for us. He’s healthy and doing a good job for us here through training camp.”
— Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards on safety Anthony Harris
Randy Moss, is that you?
No, the Hall of Fame wide receiver was not at Sunday’s practice. But Thielen — a pretty good receiver in his own right — tweeted out a picture honoring Moss.
Thielen’s son, Asher, tried on his dad’s helmet and hung his gloves from the facemask, something Moss was known for.
Moss saw the tweet and responded with some love for the team that drafted him.
The Vikings welcomed Special Olympics Minnesota to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center on Monday morning.
The group watched Monday’s walk-through session and then met players including Everson Griffen and Anthoy Barr. More than a dozen others signed autographs.
The Vikings and Special Olympics Minnesota have teamed up in the past, including for flag football games last September in Eagan.