EAGAN, Minn. — Practice was long over Friday afternoon when quarterback J.J. McCarthy started running gassers across the field. The assumption was that McCarthy was working his way back into shape after an exhausting pre-draft process that ended with the Minnesota Vikings selecting him No. 10 overall.

That, however, wasn’t quite the reason, McCarthy said afterward. As it turns out, McCarthy had jumped right into a friendly competition with the defensive players he faced on the first day of the Vikings’ rookie minicamp. The stakes were simple: During a 16-play drill, only three (or fewer) of McCarthy’s passes could hit the ground. If that happened, the defensive players would run. If four or more hit the ground, he would have to run.

“If you guys saw,” McCarthy said with a smile, “I was out there running.”

Despite a few incompletions and one interception during 7-on-7 drills, McCarthy’s first day in a Vikings uniform went smoothly. It was not by accident, as he has been immersed in their scheme since before the draft. During a private workout with Vikings officials in early April, coach Kevin O’Connell went through portions of his Day 1 install as a way to gauge McCarthy’s schematic aptitude.

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Since then, he has participated in a series of video calls with coaches and walked onto the field Friday with far less nerves than he otherwise would have had.

“It didn’t feel like my first day,” he said. “I’ve been going over the offense for a long time now. So being able to [go] out there and perform and execute, that’s new, but it was nothing that was overwhelming or too much.”

O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have spoken often about their plans to create an intentional and methodical developmental program for McCarthy, one they hope will have him ready to play — both physically and mentally — before he makes his regular-season debut. It is fully expected that veteran Sam Darnold will be taking the first-team reps when veterans begin football activities next week, but O’Connell did make a point to note that McCarthy’s recall of their previous schematic work “jumped out right away.”

McCarthy landed Thursday in Minnesota for initial meetings with coaches. On Friday morning, O’Connell said, McCarthy walked through plays on his own to prepare for the afternoon practice.

“And not because anybody told him to,” O’Connell said. “But he’s trying to have the best possible day that he can today and then try to do the same thing tomorrow. This guy is a process-driven guy and understands that there’s a long road ahead of him, that we’re just trying to make incremental gains that will be solidified as part of how he plays quarterback for a long time. So I’ve been really impressed with him so far and look forward to get another full day tomorrow.”

McCarthy spent much of his practice in close proximity to new quarterbacks coach Josh McCown, who offered feedback after nearly every throw, particularly emphasizing a tweak the team has made to McCarthy’s footwork. At one point, they raced each other from one drill to the next.

Then, after McCarthy threw a pass toward the sideline, McCown told him the story of an interception he himself threw on that route in 2015, when he was a Cleveland Browns quarterback. Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib returned it for a touchdown.

“It helps so much because he has that experience and those NFL scars,” McCarthy said. “That’s a far throw. He’s talking about his process and going back to his mistake he made against Aqib Talib and chasing him down to the end zone. It’s like learning from his mistakes, and he’s so vocal about it. It’s just invaluable, and I really appreciate it.”