Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn wants to become ‘a home run hitter’ this season

Though the 24-year-old has the ability to beat people deep, Osborn acknowledged that his big plays are likely going to come via yards after catch

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrates his 62-yard touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter of an NFL game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Dec. 9, 2021.
John Autey/St. Paul Pioneer Press
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Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn waited patiently in the batter’s box Tuesday night at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul. He already had showed off his power-hitting prowess, and with Adam Thielen’s charity softball game on the line, the 24-year-old Osborn knew it was time to step up.

In that moment, Osborn channeled his inner Byron Buxton, pulverizing the pitch over the fence to give Team Offense the win over Team Defense in walk-off fashion.

Perhaps that home run was a prescient warning to opposing teams. After emerging as a reliable target for quarterback Kirk Cousins last season, Osborn is hoping to become an even bigger threat this season.

A home run hitter so to speak.

“I want to be someone that can create those big plays,” Osborn said. “Not so much catching the ball and getting down. I want to make a guy miss and then make another guy miss and break that big play for us. Just be a game-changer.”


Though the 24-year-old has the ability to beat people deep, Osborn acknowledged that his big plays are likely going to come via yards after catch. He’s focused on getting stronger this offseason so he’s not as easy to bring down in the open field.

It should help that Osborn is feeling much more confident heading into this season. In the past, Osborn said he was so focused on not making a mistake that he would play it safe throughout a game. Instead of looking to hit a home run, for example, he would settle for single more often than not.

“Just being confident is a big thing,” Osborn said. “Now I’m able to play fast and not be worried about messing up. That’s going to allow me to get that (yards after catch) and create those big plays. I’m trying to take it to the next level. That’s what I’m striving to do right now.”

After playing sparingly as a rookie, Osborn proved to be a pleasant surprise in his second season last fall with 50 receptions for 655 yards and 7 touchdowns. He provided a tertiary option for the Vikings with star receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen garnering most of the attention.

Maybe down the road Osborn can garner similar attention.

“I want to get to the level that Justin and Adam are at right now,” he said. “They push me every single day to get better. And obviously (receivers coach Keenan McCardell) played in the league for a really long time. We have a lot of great guys in our room. They help me elevate my game.”

Something else that could help Osborn elevate his game is the new offense under head coach Kevin O’Connell. With an offensive-minded guy running the show nowadays, there should be more opportunities for the Vikings to push the ball down the field.

“It is definitely complex,” Osborn said of the new offense. “That’s what kind of makes it fun. We’re out here every day learning. We’re in the meeting rooms grinding. I’m a guy that likes to learn all the positions because I play all over the field.”


Not that Osborn feels entitled to a role. While he performed at a high level last season, and that likely gives him the upper hand heading into this season, Osborn knows the Vikings have a lot of talented receivers on the roster.

“I wouldn’t say I’m established or anything like that,” he said. “Obviously with a new offense I’m trying to learn that stuff and get it down and be the player that I want to be. My expectations for myself are probably higher than anybody else’s expectations for me. I’m my biggest critic. I’m expecting a lot out of myself.”


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