Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell satisfied by QB Kellen Mond's spring performance entering Year 2

Kellen Mond's 2021 season ended with his coach telling reporters he'd seen enough of him.

Fast-forward to 2022, where Mond has a new coach and a new perspective. Instead of being stuck in the bottom-of-the-depth-chart doghouse under Mike Zimmer, new Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell is giving Mond plenty of opportunities to earn the backup job behind Kirk Cousins.

As of Friday, Mond is doing a solid job in shorts, jerseys and helmets.

"Kellen's having a good spring so far, working incredibly hard, digesting the system," O'Connell said Thursday. "He made a couple of checks yesterday at the line of scrimmage that he wasn't prepared play-by-play for ... he just kind of instinctively did that. Those are the little things you look for."

The description from O'Connell is more important than the actual production at this stage of the offseason, primarily because it's a significant departure from the tone Zimmer took regarding Mond in the coach's final days with the Vikings. Instead of essentially leaving behind Mond's development for more immediate needs -- an understandable approach for a coach who was likely feeling his seat get warmer with each day -- O'Connell recognizes the potential gains to be made by Mond at this time of the year.

Mond arrived in Minnesota via a 2021 third-round pick and excited Vikings fans looking for a reason to have faith in a future beyond Cousins. But as the season progressed and it became clearer Zimmer might end up out of a job, the long-term work on Mond took a back seat. Instead, it was about being prepared to win the next game with Cousins and veteran backup Sean Mannion.

A new regime means a longer leash, though, which fits with Mond's developmental timeline. We're not saying he's about to take Cousins' job -- he's not -- but it should make Vikings fans feel better about the potential of Mond, who sure seemed like an afterthought for much of 2021.

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