Eight draft picks, 10 undrafted rookies, a handful of 2015 practice squad guys and dozens of players practicing on a tryout basis likely got the message early from the Vikings head coach.
Perhaps no got it clearer, despite English being his second language, than Moritz Boehringer, the wide receiver straight out of the German Football League and into the NFL. It’s a feel-good story for many that Boehringer became the first player to be drafted directly from Europe.
“The feel-good story is over,” the head coach said Friday.
“I want to end the story, to be honest with you. I want him to be here playing football and not being a celebrity. I’m giving him a hard time already about being on TV shows and stuff like that. It’s football now and it’s time to work.”
Boehringer doesn’t appear to have a problem with working hard. Ever since he saw YouTube videos on Vikings running back Adrian Peterson – hey, he was the first guy recommended when Boehringer searched “NFL” on the “German YouTube,” as general manager Rick Spielman phrased it – the German import starting working to become NFL-worthy.
Boehringer became the feel-good story of last week’s draft when NFL Network started publicly imploring the Vikings to select him in the sixth round. Minutes later, Mike Zimmer called NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock during a commercial break, and minutes after that the Vikings made NFL draft history by submitting Boehringer’s name.
The 6-foot-4, 229-pound receiver’s NFL dream became real Friday when he stepped onto the field at the Vikings’ Winter Park practice facility wearing a purple No. 81 and, given his height, he was unmistakable from the other rookie receivers.
“Now it’s finally time to work and that’s what I wanted – not the whole draft stuff,” he said.
“I have some guys that handle this stuff (the appearances). It’s just on me to concentrate on football.”
Boehringer admits that the speed of the NFL is a transition, but Friday was just as much about instruction as it was showing off the skills. There are more breaks in an NFL practice than he is used to, but he might benefit from the extra time to soak in what is being taught before applying it.
“I think the offense is new to everyone so that’s kind of good for me. But in general football knowledge, I have to do some work,” he said.
“It’s way more professional here, just because it’s not professional in Germany. Everybody takes it more serious and just focusing.”
Boehringer first became interested in the NFL when he initially saw the highlights of Peterson on YouTube. Eventually, he will have the chance to meet him face to face, but for now a phone conversation between the two on Thursday has to suffice.
Not surprisingly, the takeaway from the conversation for Boehringer was Peterson’s encouragement to “work hard and focus.”
Zimmer couldn’t agree more.