Under the watchful eye of tailgate-sitting offensive linemates John Sullivan, Phil Loadholt, Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco, as well as a wandering beneficiary of their gainful employment (Christian Ponder), rookie Matt Kalil completed his first day as a Minnesota Viking – taking part in the first "official" day of his NFL career.
"It feels good," Kalil said of the first working day of his NFL career. "It feels good to be running football plays and working with our O-line again. It's been since November, so it just feels good to get back out there, knock the rust off and come back flying out (in the afternoon) practice."
Kalil was smooth as silk in his drills and live action – or what passes for live action sans pads. For the vast majority of the guys looking to make an impression, the only one that didn't have his NFL life on the line had the easiest time, finding the way the Vikings do business pretty much the same as college powerhouse USC.
"It's pretty similar to USC – nothing I haven't seen before," Kalil said. "At SC, we did a lot of helmets flying around, basically full contact with less pads, so it's something I've seen before. It's just cool to be in a different uniform on a different team and see how great these players are."
Kalil said his biggest issue early on may be occasionally getting lost in translation. When he reads his assignment in the playbook, he's already done it, but the verbiage is different. He needs to become football bilingual of sorts.
"It's been somewhat of an easier transition that some other guys, since we ran a similar offense at USC," Kalil said. "It's a lot of the same things with basically a different language. So, it's about translating what something used to be called into what they call it here. It's just like taking Spanish class in college – just learning a whole new terminology and all that. But I've been catching on pretty fast and I feel comfortable and confident with what I've done so far."
Head coach Leslie Frazier got his first glimpse of Kalil in action Friday and came away duly impressed with what he witnessed in his blue-chip first-rounder. Asked to assess what he witnessed, if Frazier had any skepticism about the Kalil selection, it was erased Friday.
"Very impressed," Frazier said. "The first thing that sticks out is his size. He's a big man. It's one thing to watch him on tape, but to actually stand beside him and be able to watch him against our other players, you can see why we have high hopes for him."
Had Kalil stayed at USC for his senior season, he would be in the midst of the spring practice routine – and would have likely made the loaded Trojans lineup a favorite to be next year's college national champion. Having not "shaken off the rust" since last November, Kalil could have easily been persuaded to come back for another year of college football with a "BSC or Bust" motto. Asked if he had any regrets, Kalil likely ended any future attempts to ask a similar question. Not a chance. One day down. 4,000 to go.
"Not at all," Kalil said. "I accomplished everything I wanted to at USC and I'd still be there if I wanted to stay. I'm confident in my decision to move on to the next level and play for the Minnesota Vikings."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.