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Kevin O’Connell: Sam Darnold is Vikings starting quarterback over J.J. McCarthy entering training camp

Kevin O'Connell J.J. McCarthy Sam Darnold
The Vikings signed Sam Darnold to a one-year deal this offseason while drafting rookie J.J. McCarthy No. 10 overall. (Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)

Kevin O’Connell: Sam Darnold is Vikings starting quarterback over J.J. McCarthy entering training camp

When training camp opens up next month, Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell confirmed Wednesday that quarterback Sam Darnold will the team’s starter over J.J. McCarthy, who was drafted No. 10 overall in April’s draft.

“We haven’t had to put out a depth chart or anything like that,” O’Connell said, according to ESPN Vikings beat writer Kevin Seifert. “I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to based upon the spring he’s had, and really where he’s at in his career and his quarterback journey, and what he’s been able to do coming in and [hitting] the ground running and taking advantage of a competitive situation.”

This news shouldn’t come to many surprise. We weren’t at the practices watching every rep. But McCarthy, who just turned 21-years-old in January, needed some time to develop and Darnold was likely going to be the team’s starter, barring something unforeseen with McCarthy’s growth.

The Vikings will have four quarterbacks on their depth chart: Darnold, McCarthy, Nick Mullens and second-year quarterback Jaren Hall, a fifth-round pick in the 2023 draft.

The Vikings signed Darnold to a one-year deal worth $10 million at the start of free agency. The former No. 3 pick spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers behind Brock Purdy, completing 28 of his 46 passes (60.9 percent) for 297 yards with two touchdowns and one interception across 10 games.

In his last season with Michigan, McCarthy helped lead Michigan to their first National Title since 1997. He played in a pro-style offense under Jim Harbaugh, completing 72.3 percent of his passes for 2,991 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. He didn’t always make the sexiest play or put up the sexiest numbers, but what he did was lead and win.

Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed to be done. He understands he’s not the perfect quarterback yet. Cleaning up any deficiencies while learning the offense and getting adjusted to his surroundings will be something I trust Kevin O’Connell to do well. If he makes plenty of progress and becomes the starter at some point this season, great! If not, then that’s okay too.

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