MINNEAPOLIS - The Kevin O’Connell era with the Minnesota Viking started with a 23-7 win over the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.
After the win, Kirk Cousins presented O’Connell with a game ball in the locker room celebration. O’Connell turned it around and gave the entire team a game ball. When the Vikings came back to practice on Tuesday at TCO Performance Center, O’Connell was in for a surprise.
The Vikings thought they might have had a clean sweep of NFC weekly awards between Justin Jefferson, Jordan Hicks and Josh Metellus. They didn’t win any, but Jefferson was named Nickelodeon’s Player of the Week after making nine catches for a career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns. His 158 yards in the first half were a franchise record.
Jefferson and wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell wore slime hats at practice, but it was O’Connell who agreed to have a bucket of it poured over his head after.
"I thought he had an unbelievable game his first time out. Just wanted to have fun with it. I couldn’t get in the shower fast enough, that stuff is really something," O’Connell said. "Coach Phillips, in classic Wes Phillips form, he waited until after to tell me that the green slime hats that JJ and Keenan McCardell were wearing, those are really for the person that gets slimed. He waited until directly after with a nice little I told you so moment."
Winning is fun, and players had a great time with it.
"I loved it. Nickelodeon gave us player of the week so if Nickelodeon is going to recognize it, then we’re going to recognize Nickelodeon. Kevin said every single time that Nickelodeon gives us a player of the week, we’re going to slime coach.," Cousins said. "I was joking that hopefully by the end of the season, someone like Dalvin Cook is league MVP but we don’t even care because if Nickelodeon doesn’t recognize it or invite him to host the Teen Choice Awards, then it doesn’t even matter."
"Yeah, he had more slime in that bucket too. He dug it, we’re going to get him again. There’s more weeks to come, we plan on having that each week here," running back Dalvin Cook said. "That’s just the type of mindset we’ve got around here. Look forward to more sliming KO."
On a more serious note, the focus has shifted to Monday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles, who are 1-0 after a 38-35 win over the Detroit Lions. It’s the Vikings’ first road test of the season with O’Connell, and it’s a primetime game in front of more than 70,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
It’s another step for the Vikings to take in O’Connell’s first season: Winning in a hostile environment after a successful Week 1 at home against a division rival.
"I’m really looking to seeing our team do two things this week: Can we handle the success and the things we did last week well while going on the road for the first time? And then ultimately can we improve?" O’Connell said.
REVENGE GAMES FOR JORDAN HICKS, JALEN REAGOR?
Jordan Hicks should see a few familiar faces in Philadelphia Monday night. He spent his first four seasons with the Eagles, but was hurt during their Super Bowl run to end the 2017 season. He spent the last three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before signing with the Vikings in free agency.
"Any time you go back and play in your hometown or a place that you’ve played before, you always get a different type of feeling. I feel good," Hicks said.
Hicks made a splash in his first game with Minnesota, leading the defense with 14 tackles. He’s looking forward to heading back to Philadelphia.
"What jumped out at me, I really enjoyed the physicality he played with. He showed up to the ball violently. Fourteen tackles later, I thought Jordan really put some good stuff on tape," O’Connell said.
Same goes for Jalen Reagor, who was drafted by the Eagles in 2020, just ahead of Jefferson. He made 24 starts over his first two seasons and had 64 catches for 693 yards and three touchdowns. The Vikings traded for him to be the No. 4 receiver and be on punt return after Bisi Johnson went down with a season-ending knee injury.
The Vikings only had one player miss practice on Wednesday at TCO Performance Center as rookie defensive back Andrew Booth Jr. continues to deal with a quad injury. Jonathan Bullard (bicep) and Lewis Cine (knee) were both full participants. Cine said he expects to be on the field Monday night.