EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings have nine new faces on their roster, including five players who are prepping for their first regular-season NFL game on Sunday against Tennessee.
Minnesota announced its 53-man roster last weekend and had five rookies on the squad — wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, cornerback Mackensie Alexander, linebacker Kentrell Brothers, tight end David Morgan and safety Jayron Kearse.
While each player earned his spot on the team with strong performances, Kearse said it's a natural feeling for rookies to be apprehensive while waiting for the roster announcement.
Rookies said they took the approach that no news was good news.
"Outside of a few guys, Adrian Peterson and a couple guys, you know you don't have to worry about their roster spot," Kearse said. "It was a kind of nerve-racking.
"Just waiting to see if I would get a phone call or not … I never got that phone call so it was a relief," he added.
Added Brothers: "I knew we were pretty deep at linebacker, so I was nervous throughout that whole waiting stage. Once I was told that I was on the team, then I was ecstatic about it."
Sunday's matchup against the Titans will be a dream realized for the five rookies, players who grew up wanting to wear an NFL uniform and play on television.
Treadwell said Sunday is a moment he's dreamt about "a million times" since he was a young boy growing up outside of Chicago.
"Since I was a kid, I've been training to get to this level," Treadwell said.
Treadwell was one of a handful of rookies who fared well in the preseason, catching six passes for 61 yards.
Kearse and Alexander each recorded a pair of interceptions during exhibition games. Alexander quipped that the former Clemson teammates might have to make a wager on who will get their first one in a game that counts.
"We'll see," Alexander said with a smile. "It's about performing and playing well first, and whatever comes after that, it's a plus."
The season-opener in Tennessee has special meaning to Kearse. His uncle, Jevon, recorded 52 sacks in seven seasons with the Titans, including a rookie record 14.5 in 1999, and 22 more in four seasons with the Eagles.
"It's crazy I'm going against the team my uncle was drafted to for my first NFL game," said Kearse who had 18 tackles, two interceptions and forced a fumble during preseason action. "It's going to be a surreal moment. I'm just happy to be here."
The Vikings will count on each member of the 53-man roster to contribute this season.
For Minnesota's five rookies, their NFL career begins Sunday in Nashville.
Morgan, who said the group has formed a strong bond since the spring, said he wouldn't be surprised if there are a few butterflies for the rookies.
"I'm hoping I got them out in the preseason," Morgan said. "But it's the real deal now."