Vikings defensive tackle Jaylen Tweeman was visiting relatives in her native Washington D.C. last June, and a month later, she was taking the field to start training camp. But in an instant his season got derailed.
Twyman, who was a rookie at the time and was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh seven weeks earlier, was sitting in a vehicle. Suddenly, shots fired and Twyman, an innocent victim, was hurt four times.
“I don’t remember much about it,” Twyman said of the June 21, 2021 incident in which four people were shot but all survived. “I kind of blacked out in the situation.”
Fortunately, Twyman’s injuries were not serious. He called it “definitely surprising” that he suffered “flesh wounds” that were “nothing but a little deceit”. But the wounds were still so severe that his season was over.
Tweeman was placed on the non-football injury list and was ruled out of 2021. He returned for the start of off-season practice last month and went through practice on Friday, the first day of a two-day rookie minicamp at the TCO Performance Center.
“It felt good,” said Twyman. “I’m happy to be back. It’s a blessing. … I’m stronger than ever and I’m ready to keep working and getting better every day.”
After the shooting incident, the Vikings issued a statement saying that Twyman was “expected to make a full recovery.” But Twyman said, “Physically, it took a few months to recover”.
Tweeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has been impressed by how Twainman has returned.
“Jelene has worked very hard to come back from her wounds,” Rosenhaus said. “I believe he has a bright future in the NFL because of his determination and talent. I am excited to see him on the field on the pads at training camp (starting in late July). He has an amazing personality. A brilliant young man. Jaylen is easy to root for.”
Twyman was drafted by the Vikings to help provide an internal pass rush. When he last played, he had 10 and a half sacks for Pittsburgh in 2019. He then opted out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As Tweeman continues to work his way up, Vikings first-year coach Kevin O’Connell loves what he’s seen so far.
O’Connell said, “He’s been one of those people you love to look in his eyes through now (offseason practice).” “He will be someone we are watching closely as we get into (organized team activities) and his continued climb into this off-season schedule.”
The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Twyman lost weight after recovering from his wounds, and says it shows.
“I’m stronger than ever, you know,” he said. “The other day I did a little test of my strength. I put a little (more) weight on the bar, and I loved it.
Twyman said he may have been able to come off the non-football injury list sometime last year if the Vikings needed him. Although this did not happen, he considered it a valuable experience to spend the season around the team.
“I felt like I could help, but at the same time I was still learning the play, swinging things as a rookie,” he said. “So I was sitting back and learning from (defensive tackle) Dalvin Tomlinson and Arman Watts, it helped me. I’ve benefited from seeing those people and getting those psychic reps. … (it helped) to be on the road with those guys or to have an extra set of eyes on the side to help D-line.
Looking at the bigger picture, Tweeman is grateful that the injuries he suffered were not more serious.
“I’m definitely relieved, and it’s a blessing,” he said. “I give glory to God. I’m just happy to be back.”