EAGAN (FOX 9) - Practice had ended Wednesday at TCO Performance Center in Eagan as Minnesota Vikings rookies and select veterans get ready for Training Camp. A small group remained on one of the practice fields.
The cluster featured quarterbacks, tight ends and defensive backs. It should be no surprise that second round pick Irv Smith Jr. was in the mix. He's made it known since the night the Vikings took him with the No. 50 overall pick that he wants to be a complete tight end.
It means dissecting film, listening to coaches and staying after practice with other players to work on the little things. Smith is just days away from embarking on his first Training Camp with the Vikings.
"It's still a learning process for me, coming in as a rookie. I'm trying to just do everything to be a pro and whatever I can do to help the team," Smith said.
Smith should feel ready for a productive rookie season with the Vikings. He went 41-3 in college with Alabama, a program that churns out NFL athletes every year, won a national title in 2017 and played in three national championship games. He finished last season with 44 catches for more than 700 yards and seven touchdowns.
He's also got NFL bloodlines. His father, Irv Sr., and uncle both played in the NFL. Irv Smith Sr. was a pro for seven years after being a first-round draft pick by the New Orleans Saints. He had 15 touchdowns in 95 career games.
So what did he learn from his father before he came to Eagan to get ready for training camp? Be thankful you're practicing at TCO Performance Center, and be excited to work out in front of your fans.
"He said when he was with the Saints they had to go all the way to Wisconsin. I'm like ‘Why would y'all go to Wisconsin? He was like you don't ask, you just go. So I thought that was funny," Smith said. "It's nice, we have this beautiful facility to come to. I can't wait to see the fans out here and watch us work."
Vikings fourth round pick, offensive tackle Dru Samia out of Oklahoma, is using the three days before Training Camp officially starts rehashing what was learned during rookie mini camp. He said Wednesday the offensive line is "way ahead" of where they were back at organized team activities.
"We're just really good at picking up the playbook, studying, stuff like that. It's a hard-working group," Samia said.
There is plenty to sift through offensively as Kevin Stefanski, Gary Kubiak and the rest of the coaching staff revamp the team's offensive philosophy. The Vikings want to run the ball more, and Samia could have an early impact in that on the offensive line.
His top priority this week is getting signals down and being ready when the full squad has its first practice on Friday.
"I need to make sure that the plays they're going through right now, I'm completely set with it so as soon as it gets to when the veterans are here I know exactly what to do," Samia said. "I can just focus on my technique and intensity."
Over on the defensive side, rookie Kris Boyd out of Texas is doing everything he can to get ready for a potential role in the secondary early on. Holton Hill is suspended for the first eight games of the season, and Mike Hughes is still recovering from offseason knee surgery.
The seventh round pick should get plenty of reps in Training Camp.
"Ain't nothing really promised, you have to come out here and handle your business. I'm pretty much just staying in the playbook, all ears listening to everybody's advice," Boyd said. "Nothing is guaranteed, I'm just coming out here trying to get a job."
Boyd started 12 of 13 games for Texas as a junior, recording 57 tackles, two interceptions and a team-high 15 pass break-ups. Last year, he made 13 starts and had 67 tackles, 4.5 for a loss with one interception and 16 pass break-ups.
He also played special teams on the punt return at Texas, and was fielding punts Wednesday. He could be asked to take on a similar role with the Vikings and will embrace any chance he's given.
"I mean I really can't see anybody who wouldn't want to work on return. You're getting the ball, but yeah I wouldn't mind it. Take one to the house, that would be pretty exciting," Boyd said.
More than anything, he's taking in everything that comes with being an NFL rookie about to embark on his first Training Camp.
"I'm just out here playing, man. I'm just having fun, it's a blessing to be here. I don't really see it as competition. I'm just out here having fun," Boyd said.