Why J.J. McCarthy’s fiancée reads him back Vikings’ plays

The Minnesota Vikings offseason workout program concluded on Wednesday with their final practice of organized team activities at TCO Performance Center.

The workout was optional, with a majority of veterans already off to summer vacations. The last session was for rookies and younger players who need more reps before training camp starts at the end of July. One of those rookies getting in work was quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who will enter training camp as one of the back-ups.

Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell confirmed Wednesday that Sam Darnold can be viewed as the starting quarterback when camp starts July 27. McCarthy has had his ups and downs as a rookie already. He’s hit receivers on deep throws, he’s had interceptions. O’Connell says it will be a process for the No. 10 overall pick, and they're tempering early expectations of their future quarterback.

"This is not going to be something where you have ultra control to the point where J.J. is out there playing for us, we’re expecting some finished product. That’s part of the phase of the development is getting exposed to in-game adversity, getting in a rhythm and feeling like he can’t miss, then there’s other days where it feels like the defense has 13 guys on the field," O’Connell said. "You’ve got to be able to withstand both and overcome both and continue to just have a next snap mentality."

McCarthy knows the standard, coming off winning a national title at Michigan. He’s also holding himself to daily expectations.

"The only expectations I put on myself is to know the playbook inside and out, to be the best teammate I can possibly be, show up and work harder than everyone else in this building," McCarthy said. "I don’t know if I could outdo KO, but I’ll try."

So what’s his process to learning the playbook? Josh McCown voice records plays on his phone, and sends them to McCarthy. His fiancée reads him the plays off a flash card, and he says them back. He then sees it on the field, and reacts.

"I’ll have my fiancée read it back to me and then I’ll go through it, the whole play. We’ll do that almost every night. You read it, you write it, you see it and then you start hearing it. It’s a hassle, but she understands," McCarthy said.

Most players will take a breather in the six weeks between the offseason program and training camp. Some go on vacations. McCarthy said he plans to stay around the Twin Cities, be at TCO Performance Center as much as possible and get away on the golf course.

"We’re going to stay here in the great state of Minnesota, enjoy this weather and maybe do a little golfing. I can drive for the show, but not putt for the dough," McCarthy said. "I’m just going to be in the facility as much as I can. I’m going to be here working my butt off."

O’Connell said the first two weeks of training camp will be about players putting themselves in position to win jobs. Those jobs will ultimately be won in the preseason, in joint practices and tema situations.

When July 27 hits, it’s full throttle.

"There’s an hour glass going for 32 teams the moment that we all come back to training camp and how we use that time, how we prepare the team I’ve learned is a huge part of the early season," O’Connell said.