It's somewhat hard to believe, but the Vikings are scheduled to play a football game in less than a week.
Minnesota will open its 2018 preseason slate by visiting Denver at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The team also is essentially at the midpoint of 2018 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, with seven full-team sessions in the books and eight more scheduled, including two days of joint practices with the Jaguars (Aug. 15-16).
With players off today, we thought it would be a good time to share 10 takeaways from training camp so far…
1. Moving forward with heavy hearts
The tragic passing of offensive line coach Tony Sparano hit Vikings coaches and players hard. The team attended the funeral on July 27 and practiced together for the first time the following day.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer named Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko as co-offensive line coaches and slid Todd Downing to Barone's former tight ends position. Barone and Janocko have been **two voices delivering one message**, and coaches and players have said a fitting tribute to Sparano is to do everything they can to play as well as they can.
2. Vikings offense could try to set pace of play
From the first walk-through session, the Vikings broke the huddle and hustled to the line of scrimmage. When an offense can run fast, it has the opportunity to limit the number of pre-snap adjustments by the defense.
It appears that Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo will utilize pre-snap motions and shifts as another means of challenging defenses.
3. Throws by Cousins on point
Fans have enjoyed their first practices with Kirk Cousins under center. The marquee offseason signing has shown his skills multiple times, connecting with Stefon Diggs deep, Adam Thielen often and **Laquon Treadwell in the red zone**.
One of the best throws Cousins has executed was actually an incompletion. Cousins perfectly threaded a football to Diggs amidst three Vikings defenders on Friday during a two-minute drill. The ball bounced off Diggs' hands and was one of several drops that afternoon. Diggs and the receiving corps did punitive push-ups after the practice to atone for the practice-long case of the drops.
4. Offensive continuity is mirroring the defense
Speaking of Diggs, the Vikings were able to lock down the talented receiver with a multi-year contract extension.
The **continuity on offense** is starting to mirror that of the defense, which had Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter extended this offseason, to go along with Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith in the past two-plus years.
5. Dalvin Cook has impressed
Cook is cleared to play in preseason games if the Vikings opt to do so. The 2017 second-round pick has bounced back from a torn ACL that derailed his promising rookie campaign in just the fourth game.
Cook has gone beyond looking like he's ready to merely suit up. He has shown explosive cuts and the fluidity that helped him rush for 354 yards on 74 carries and add 90 yards on 11 carries last season.
Cook was not in full pads for Saturday night's practice the first practice he didn't participate in full thus far.
6. Defensive line could develop a rotation
Griffen, the three-time Pro Bowler who landed at No. 19 in NFL Network's Top 100 this offseason, is a player whose motor is always running.
He wants to be in on the action and usually has been since becoming a starter in 2014. That doesn't mean a quick rest would hurt, however. Griffen has talked about the importance of trying to establish a rotation along the defensive line to stay as fresh as possible throughout the season and hopefully continues with another deep postseason run.
Upcoming preseason reps, as well as the joint practices with Jacksonville, could help Vikings reserves build trust and develop the rotation pattern.
7. Barr has spent more time with the defensive line
Linebacker Anthony Barr has joined the defensive line group for multiple pass-rush drills and could be utilized as an edge rusher in a special defensive package this season. Zimmer explained **Barr’s ability to rush** (and a multitude of other things).
Opponents have seen Barr and Kendricks show plenty of double A gap blitzes and bluffs, but utilizing Barr as a fifth rusher would give offenses another problem to solve.
8. Young corners ready to learn
Mackensie Alexander has been solid, stepping in with the first-team defense at nickelback. Alexander opened up about accepting the role he initially balked at playing.
Alexander said he wants to maximize what he's learned from 39-year-old Terence Newman.
The Vikings also have gotten quality reps out of rookies Mike Hughes, the team's first-round draft pick, and Holton Hill, an undrafted rookie free agent. Hughes has played outside corner and in the slot. Hill has made plays down the field and in the red zone. Both have been complimented by Xavier Rhodes.
9. Kicker battle continues
The Vikings have two kickers battling for one spot. Veteran Kai Forbath and Daniel Carlson have made it a friendly competition. The two exchanged fives between alternate field goal attempts at Friday's practice.
Carlson was good from 33, 39 and 50, but he was wide right from 46. Forbath was good from 33, 46 and 50, but he was wide right from 39.
Forbath and Carlson combined to go 8-for-8 in Saturday's night scrimmage. Each was good from 33, 41, 46 and 53 yards.
10. Legends enjoying new home
Vikings Legends have enjoyed making their way out for the first training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Joe Berger, who retired this offseason, and his family cruised through town on their way home from a cross-country RV expedition.
Alan Page brought generations of his family out to see the next-gen Vikings and met Sheldon Richardson.
50 Greatest Vikings members Jeff Siemon, Tommy Kramer, Keith Millard and Henry Thomas have visited training camp. Other Vikings alumni who have made it out include Brooks Bollinger, Mike Harris, Willie Howard and Greg Coleman.
Vikings.com caught up with Millard and Thomas, who were invited into the defensive line huddle for a quick hello, on Friday.
"It was an honor to be in there with those guys, seeing Griff and B-Rob and some of those guys, it was pretty cool to stand there and be close to them," Millard said. "Even though I've coached for a long time, it was still pretty cool to see those guys in a Vikings uniform."
As for the new facility, Thomas said, "It seems like it came so quickly, and how much they've done and its greatness is overwhelming a little bit."
Millard added: "It's first-class all the way. Everything you need is here. If you need a great locker room, a comfortable locker room, it's here. The fields are pristine, the whole excitement for the fans to come and watch is beautiful."