Vikings' Holmes back home at defensive end

Jalyn Holmes played defensive tackle for the Vikings during his first two seasons in the NFL. This year he is being moved back to his natural position, defensive end.

Vikings Camp - Holmes dup
Third-year Vikings defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes, shown as a rookie during 2018 training camp in Eagan, is being shifted from defensive tackle to his natural position of defensive end this season. (Post Bulletin file photo)

EAGAN -- Jalyn Holmes had to get a bit creative in working out this past offseason so the Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman literally took to the streets.

Holmes, in his third year with the Vikings out of Ohio State, was trying to transform his body as he is being shifted from a defensive tackle back to his natural position of defensive end.

He changed his eating habits -- eliminating such things as fast food, dairy and red meat -- and was able to drop more than 20 pounds.

“Around my birthday right after the season, I was about 300 (pounds),” the 6-foot-5 Holmes said. “Right now I weighed in at 277. I changed my diet up, did a lot of cardio.”

To improve his cardiovascular, Holmes did a lot of running. But due to COVID-19, he had to modify his workouts.


“It was a big difference at first, just trying to get into a gym," he said. "I was in Ohio so a lot of things were closed and I couldn’t get access.

“I did a lot of cardio in my neighborhood, just running full speed down the street early in the morning," he added.

It wasn't uncommon for Holmes' neighbors to watch him from their windows as he sprinted up and down the streets with his Vikings helmet on.

“I had to do what I had to do,” he said.

The Vikings lost defensive end Everson Griffen to free agency in the offseason. Holmes, who has been a backup his first two seasons, was eager to shift back to defensive end to help the team.

"I played defensive end my whole collegiate career so it’s like trying to figure out how to ride a bike again, which is not too hard after a while,” Holmes said. “I feel very comfortable out there.

"I’m willing to do whatever to make this team better, so if I have to go out to the edge sometimes or the three-tech (inside) sometimes, I’m going to do whatever to see the team win," he added.

Holmes was looking solid early on in training camp and with Danielle Hunter being sidelined, he was getting a lot of time with the first-team defense.


"I just know from blocking him for the last three years, this is the best Jayln Holmes has ever looked or played by a long shot," Vikings right guard Brian O'Neill said.

“One thing I really worked on was my get-off-the-ball all offseason," Holmes said. "I felt like that was something that had to be perfected and I’m still trying to perfect that, especially being on the edge now.”

Holmes has played 11 games in his first two seasons, making four tackles in six games a year ago. And while Holmes has been trying to hone his craft to improve his skill set, he seems destined to be a backup again. Hunter is among the elite defensive ends in the league and the Vikings just traded for 25-year-old defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who had 37.5 sacks his first four years in the league. Plus Ifedii Odenigbo, who had seven sacks last season, is an up and coming player.

“Whatever I can do to contribute, I’m willing to do it,” Holmes said.

Besides changing positions, Holmes also has a new number. He wore No. 91 his first two seasons, but gave that number to Ngakoue upon his arrival. Holmes -- who received a little financial compensation from Ngakoue in exchange -- will wear No. 90 this season.

Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson has praised Holmes in the past. Holmes could be the team's next defensive lineman to show improvement after a few years under Patterson.

And while Holmes is looking forward to returning to end, he also has noticed the game has slowed down a bit for him when he's on the outside.

"I was saying things happen a lot faster down there (at defensive tackle) because guys are closer," Holmes said. "But it has definitely helped me transition back to defensive end. Things kind of slow down a little bit so you get a little bit of time to read things a little bit more."

Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or
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