MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Since he came to the Minnesota Vikings, Kevin O’Connell has preached communication and collaboration.
One of his other pillars is having players performing at their best when it’s required. That philosophy worked in his first season as a head coach to the tune of a 13-5 record and NFC North title. To get there, he has to have a healthy roster.
Thursday, Twin Cities media got an inside look at how O’Connell works with his training staff, and how that group functions in detail to get players ready for practice, and for game day. Tyler Williams, the team’s executive director of player health and performance, team dietitian Remi Famodu-Jackson and Josh Hingst, the team’s director of player performance, all spoke to their methods and roles within the Vikings.
They’re a large reason why the Vikings were named the No. 1 team in the NFL to play for in 2022, according to a players’ association survey released last week.
"For players across the board, all over the league to hear the Vikings’ players say this about their building, their team, their support structure, the people that directly impact their ability to play football at a high level, these are the folks that do it," O’Connell said of his training staff.
Williams uses a Medical High-Performance Model that emphasizes concepts from nutrition to medicine, strength and conditioning and everything in between to advise Vikings’ players how to keep them at their best. O’Connell says he’s had as many as six teams reach out this offseason about their model.
O’Connell meets with his training staff at least once per week throughout the season. They assess where players are at, when they can go full throttle at practice and when they need to back off. Famodu-Jackson makes sure players are eating right and are hydrated, Hingst makes sure they’re training properly to be at their best daily.
The model is broken down into buckets of People, Process, and Culture, all buzzwords for O’Connell.
"It can sound cliché until you actually live it and do it every single day," O’Connell said.
Williams said all 32 NFL teams are required to monitor players for on-field workload, including games. They have data and analytics to provide players with the "why" for daily schedules, workouts and routines.
"Collaboration is important because it’s what makes all the gears turn. If one gear is not turning, we’re not turning that athlete in the most efficient manner possible," Williams said. "We want to make sure they’re not under prepared, not overworked and they’re in a ready state to train at all times."
In addition to laying out their methods and processes, O’Connell provided injury updates on Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth Jr. and Brian O’Neill.
LEWIS CINE READY FOR OTAs?
O’Connell said Thursday he’s cautiously optimistic Cine will be ready to return to the field by Week 3 of Vikings’ organized team activities, typically in late May. Cine suffered a fractured leg/ankle while running down the field on a punt against the New Orleans Saints in London. The injury was severe enough that he spent a week in a London hospital before returning to Minnesota.
Cine has consistently posted updates on his rehab at TCO Performance Center throughout the offseason.
"I’m just so proud of where he’s at. His desire to be in this building every day and doing the things we’re asking him to do, and going beyond that," O’Connell said. "He’s been fantastic."
ANDREW BOOTH JR. WILL BE LIMITED IN OTAs
Andrew Booth’s rookie season ended early, suffering a knee injury in his first career start against the Dallas Cowboys. He had surgery to repair a meniscus injury, and is on a six-to-eight month recovery process. O’Connell said he will be limited in OTAs, but should be ready for training camp.
Booth played just six games in his rookie season, and finished with 12 tackles.
BRIAN O’NEILL WILL BE READY FOR TRAINING CAMP
Brian O’Neill’s season came to an end on New Year’s Day in a 41-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. O’Neill suffered a partially torn right Achilles on an interception return, which required surgery. Williams said O’Neill’s tear wasn’t completely off the bone, but still needed a complete repair.
O’Connell said the timeline is for O’Neill to be ready for training camp. O’Neill, a team captain, has played five seasons in Minnesota, has made 75 starts and been one of the better right tackles in the NFL.