After a hectic few days, newly acquired tight end Chris Herndon is starting to settle in with the Vikings. He already has immersed himself in the playbook and participated fully in Wednesday’s practice at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
The next step will be developing chemistry with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“He’s done a great job picking up the offense,” Cousins said. ” That was really the first hurdle, so he has a good feel for what we’re trying to do. We just need more time to get the feel of how he’s wired and what he does naturally well.”
This could be the fresh start Herndon needs. After a stellar rookie season with the New York Jets in 2018 when he had 39 receptions for 502 yards and four touchdowns, his production took a dip over the past couple of seasons. He was acquired by the Vikings last week for a fourth-round draft pick.
“It was kind of thrown at me,” said Herndon, who admitted he was surprised by the trade. “You just have to learn to adapt in a new environment, new people, new offense. I’m just doing my best to learn as fast as I can and get acclimated.”
It’s unclear whether Herndon will play in Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. He currently is listed behind fellow tight ends Tyler Conklin and Brandon Dillon on the depth chart.
“I’m just coming out here working every day and enjoying getting better,” Herndon said. “Whatever the team has for me, it’s up to me to be ready, in shape, and know as much as I can.”
While there’s a lot of hype surrounding the return of quarterback Joe Burrow, and for good reason, the most-dynamic player on the Bengals offense is almost certainly running back Joe Mixon.
That’s something Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce made abundantly clear before Wednesday’s practice. As a former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle, Pierce has bad memories of playing against the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Mixon.
“For a big back, he’s really, really fast,” Pierce said. “He has a really, really complete game. He can run inside, run outside, and he can break those long runs. Unfortunately I’ve been on the receiving end of a few of those things. There’s not one thing we can hone in on him, like he’s a power back, or he’s a speed guy. He can do literally everything.”
“We have a great running back here and Dalvin gets the praise he deserves,” Pierce added. “I don’t think Joe gets his due. But with success and winning seasons, that will come for him. He’s a threat, so we have to be on our P’s and Q’s and limit those things.”
For the first time this season, the Vikings had perfect attendance at practice on Wednesday. At least at the start.
After missing most of the past month with a lingering injury, linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) participated Wednesday. In addition to Barr, left tackle Christian Darrisaw (groin) returned practice. Both players were limited participants, as was tight end Tyler Conklin (hamstring).
Meanwhile, running back Alexander Mattison (ribs), receiver Dede Westbrook (knee) and safety Josh Metellus (ankle) were all full participants.