Vikings receivers went to bat for position coach Keenan McCardell this offseason

After the Vikings hired coach Kevin O’Connell this offseason, McCardell was among the only position coaches retained.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver coach Keenan McCardell talks with Justin Jefferson during a practice in Eagan, Minnesota.
Courtesy / Minnesota Vikings
We are part of The Trust Project.

EAGAN, Minn. -- With so many changes this offseason, Keenan McCardell didn’t know what to think.

On Jan. 10, the Minnesota Vikings fired coach Mike Zimmer after missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. On Feb. 16, the Vikings hired coach Kevin O’Connell in a move that signaled a new direction for the franchise.

Meanwhile, the 52-year-old McCardell was left to wonder about his future. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks after the Vikings introduced O’Connell that McCardell found out he would be staying in the Twin Cities.

Joseph went 7-for-8 on field-goal attempts and made a 58-yarder on the final play of Monday night’s practice.
Six years later, Sean Mannion has revealed he didn’t take the $100 that Jared Goff was ready to pay him.
“Nights like this are when you kind of feel just how special our fan base really is,’’ O’Connell said before the practice.
“I feel like any time I touch the ball, I can take it the distance,” Nailor said.
Jefferson has set a goal of being the first receiver to have a 2,000-yard season.
Fullback and family man never forgets his roots and what got him there.
The Vikings picked safety Lewis Cine in the first round of the 2022 draft, but whether he starts the Sept. 11 opener against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium remains to be seen.
In his 10 seasons, Smith has made six Pro Bowls and had one first-team All-Pro selection. He has 29 career interceptions and 16½ sacks.
In addition to his reps at receiver, Smith-Marsette is in contention to be the starting punt returner.
Cousins said missing four practices last year didn’t set him back because he was in a fourth straight season with a similar system (but his fourth different offensive coordinator) under head coach Mike Zimmer. He said it would be different if he were to miss time this camp under new coach Kevin O’Connell and new offensive coordinator Wes Phillips.

“We had a great opportunity to get together and talk about what he wanted from the position,” said McCardell, the Vikings’ receivers coach last season. “He believed in me. He had a lot of friends of mine that called him and said I was a really good coach.”

As if that wasn’t confirmation enough for O’Connell, receivers like Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn, among others, went to bat for McCardell this offseason. They liked his coaching style and wanted him to stick around.


“He’s an awesome coach, and I really love him because he played the position and has been in our shoes,” Osborn said. “He keeps it real with all of us. He’s easy to talk to about anything. We’re really excited to have him back.”

The fact that his players vouched for him meant a lot to McCardell.

“It shows what kind of (receivers) room we have,” he said. “We take care of each other. We look out for each other. We make sure that it’s a family in there. That’s how we feel.”

That said, McCardell said he hopes his resume speaks for itself. He spent 16 seasons as a receiver in the NFL, emerging as a star with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Keenan McCardell

No doubt his experience as a player has helped McCardell as a coach. He can relay information authoritatively day in and day out, which has been extremely helpful in teaching a new scheme that puts a lot of stress on the receivers.

“We put a lot on those guys,” offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said. “We’re not going to just spell it out and have the longest play calls known to man. Everything is coded. Everything has the ability to get up to the line of scrimmage and go fast. Ultimately, that’s what we want so we can put pressure on the defense when we choose to. I think Keenan McCardell has done a phenomenal job. I couldn’t be more pleased with him and the job he’s done with those guys getting him up to speed.”

Asked about the new scheme, McCardell said it excites him because it puts the onus on his players to step up.

“We have to put the ownership on us to make the passing game work,” McCardell said. “It’s like we are in control. We’ve got to hear it, see it, run the routes and make the plays.”



Offensive linemen Austin Schlottmann and Vederian Lowe weren’t spotted at TCO Performance Center in Eagan on Tuesday afternoon as the Vikings opened up mandatory minicamp. Meanwhile, Osborn missed practice with an undisclosed injury, and fellow receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette was on the sidelines wearing a walking boot.


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What to read next
One of Dayne St. Clair’s first soccer memories is from roughly 20 years ago with him juggling a plastic balloon at his grandmother’s home in the Toronto area. The young Canadian wasn’t yet good enough with his feet to keep a heavier soccer ball aloft; he needed an inflatable orb that would hang in the air a bit longer.
"Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."
If Scully ever really considered himself the greatest of all time, he never let on. He was truly a humble man with a great gift — the ability to spin a story while calling a baseball game and paint a picture that made you feel you were in the ballpark watching along with him.
The MLS All-Star Game at Allianz Field at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday remains, like the rest, an exhibition, but the opponent will be a rival collection of all-star players from Mexico’s Liga MX. It’s providing new spice.