Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall doesn’t want to put too much emphasis on his first NFL start this weekend.
“The career doesn’t ride on one game,” he told reporters this week.
Then again …
“It’s got to be my Super Bowl every week,” the former BYU QB said seconds later, “because it’s the most important thing that’s coming next.”
At 25 years old, Hall is older than a lot of NFL rookies. And with the Vikings trading for former Arizona Cardinals starter Joshua Dobbs at the deadline, the window for Hall to cement himself as the Vikings’ No. 1 for the rest of this season could be a small one.
But it’s an opportunity Hall feels prepared for.
The former BYU found himself at the center of one of the NFL’s biggest stories this week.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in the middle of the fourth quarter against the Packers. And in a moment’s notice, Minnesota turned to the rookie to finish out a 24-10 win at Lambeau Field.
Thrust into a regular-season game for the first time, Hall walked to the huddle deep in Vikings’ territory, trying to keep his team together.
Hall’s command of the huddle made an impression.
“When he came in, he was spitting out the play calls with no hesitation, with no verbiage that was missing,” tight end T.J. Hockenson said. “It was good. He took control of the huddle and that’s what you need out of a rookie quarterback. They’ve got to have the confidence to come into the huddle and just really take control of it.”
Hall will get an opportunity to keep that control now. The Vikings will start him this weekend in Atlanta.
“I pride myself on preparation,” he said. “So once you get on the field, it’s just a game. I feel like I’m more than capable and ready to do whatever is asked of me.”
Minnesota took Hall in the fifth round of this year’s draft. At 6-foot, 207 pounds, he was considered a bit undersized. But Hall is athletic and considered to be an accurate passer.
In his limited snaps, Hall went 3-for-4 passing for 23 yards. In three preseason games, he was 26 of 48 for 264 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He added eight runs for 35 yards.
And he’s impressed everyone in the organization with his demeanor.
“How he came off, how he was on the sideline, getting some great feedback from the guys in the huddle with him, all that information led me to believe Jaren is ready for this moment,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said.
The quarterback still had a year of eligibility left but decided to enter the NFL draft last spring.
“It was the right timing. He’s ready. He is married and has a kid. It’s always been his dream,” his father, former BYU running back Kalin Hall, said in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune last month. “He was ready just to move into the next phase of his life. He knew he was ready. Things people had to say about him, he didn’t really care. He just knew, given an equal opportunity, he would go and prove to people that he deserves to be in that league.”
At the time, Hall was still preparing behind the scenes as he awaited an opportunity.
“He is working, like we do. One day at a time, one practice at a time, one snap at a time,” Kalin Hall said. “[We] don’t talk football. Never have. I talk life and being a good person. You know, living the gospel the way you should. Being a good man and being good to your wife and kids. The football stuff takes care of itself.”
On Sunday, the quarterback will get his chance.
“Ultimately, you don’t know that anybody’s ready until they get out there,” Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said of Hall.
“Everything you know about his background, his story, he is poised. … And look, your first snaps come backed up at Lambeau Field. That’s not, I would say, the ideal situation. On a third down, he stood in there and he converted a pass. You always look for those small signs, because sometimes the data is not going to be large, and you have to make decisions.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.