EAGAN, Minn. — This was no ordinary practice.
There was an electricity in the air Wednesday afternoon at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center as the Vikings and Jaguars practiced for more than two hours in full pads.
Minnesota’s offense and Jacksonville’s defense occupied one field for most of the afternoon, while the Vikings defense and Jaguars offense were on the next field over.
The teams will be at it again Thursday as practice is expected to run from 2:45-5 p.m. There will also be a walk-through by the Vikings from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
The Vikings and Jaguars will square off at noon (CT) Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Here are 10 observations from Wednesday’s session:
1-3. 1-on-1 drills
Minnesota’s wide receivers won the drill against a strong Jacksonville secondary. In the 25 reps taken between the two teams, the Vikings had 15 successful plays compared to eight by the Jaguars. Jacksonville was also flagged twice in the drill. Stefon Diggs used a nifty double move on a catch to draw an ‘ooooh’ from the crowd, and Adam Thielen hauled in a pair of passes on out routes. Perhaps the standout of the drill was Chad Bebbe, who used his quickness to cleanly snag three passes against the Jaguars. Laquon Treadwell also showed strong hands on a pair of plays.
When the Vikings were on defense … | By @LindseyMNSports
The energy level was high during 1-on-1s between Jaguars wide receivers and Vikings defensive backs. Blake Bortles and Jaguars backup QB Cody Kessler rotated through a total of more than 20 reps, and a few good matchups ensued, including between CB Xavier Rhodes / WR Marqise Lee and CB Mackensie Alexander / WR Shane Wynn – the latter of whom shared a laugh and friendly exchange on their way back down the sideline. There were no turnovers forced by Vikings DBs, but rookie Mike Hughes stood out during the drill. The corner read the route and broke up a pass from Kessler to WR Jaydon Mickens.
Vikings offensive linemen vs. Jaguars defensive linemen … | By @pcraigers
The offensive line cycled through pass-rush drills against Jacksonville’s defensive linemen, offering valuable snaps against speed rushes, powerful bull rushes and an occasional spin move.
The Jaguars had some nice executions to win multiple reps. Others were claimed by Vikings linemen who kept defenders away from a cone placed where the quarterback would be in the pocket.
The players had a few snaps that were more akin to stalemates. Jacksonville nose tackle Marcell Dareus had a good initial push before center Cornelius Edison anchored on one snap.
Left tackle Riley Reiff started it off against defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, followed by LG Tom Compton against Calais Campbell, Edison against Dareus, RG Danny Isidora against Malik Jackson and RT Brian O’Neill against Lerente McCray.
O’Neill stepped in with the first team in place of Rashod Hill and he later had a rep against Carroll Phillips, who was elevated in place of suspended DE Dante Fowler.
Aviante Collins took reps at left tackle against Phillips and left guard against Lyndon Johnson.
Note: Mike Remmers continue to work his way back from a camp injury, and Pat Elflein continues to recover from offseason surgery.
4-5. Third down, 7-on-7 session in red zone
The Vikings offense broke through a few times against a tough Jaguars defense that tightened up inside the 20-yard line. Kendall Wright had the play of the day when he slid to catch a touchdown from Kirk Cousins while being covered by two Jacksonville defenders. Thielen also caught a wide open touchdown before Beebe made a touchdown catch by the front left corner of the end zone.
Xavier Rhodes broke up a pass by Bortles intended for Donte Moncrief, and Terence Newman intercepted Bortles two plays later by jumping a route over the middle by Marqise Lee.
Andrew Sendejo covered tight end James O’Shaughnessy on the following play.
Bortles had one completion to Lee on five snaps against the Vikings first-team defense in the session.
With the second team, Cody Kessler opted for a check-down to Corey Grant to start his reps and followed with a touchdown to rookie DJ Chark.
6-7*. Full-team in the red zone*
The teams then went 11-on-11 inside the red zone but called plays on each of the three downs. Cousins open the drill by hitting Laquon Treadwell for a short pass. Running back Dalvin Cook was stopped for a minimal gain before a Cousins’ pass his way fell incomplete. Latavius Murray then had a pair of short runs inside the 5-yard line. Trevor Siemian and Tavarres King later connected on an impressive touchdown as the wide receiver managed to stay in bounds on the front right corner of the end zone.
Harrison Smith jumped in front of O’Shaughnessy and Trae Waynes on one play during the session. The normally sure-handed safety lamented not reeling in the ball that Waynes also had lined up for a pick.
The Vikings defensive line had a couple of nice pressures, including one by David Parry on an incompletion by Kessler and one by Stephen Weatherly on an incompletion by rookie Tanner Lee.
8-9. Game situation
The Vikings trailed 7-3 with 41 seconds left in the second quarter and the ball on their own 39-yard line. The goal was to at least let in field goal range before halftime.
Things didn’t go smoothly for Minnesota’s first two offensive units. Kirk Cousins threw three straight incompletions against a stout Jaguars defense that would have forced a Minnesota punt. Siemian and the next group came in but went they also went three-and-out as the unit couldn’t convert on third-and-4.
The Vikings led 7-3 with 41 seconds left in the second quarter, with Jacksonville holding the ball on their own 39-yard line. The goal was to go into the half with the lead intact.
Bortles connected with O’Shaughnessy on a third-and-5 for a gain of 22 to the Minnesota 35-yard line with 12 seconds remaining. Rhodes nearly picked off a pass intended for Lee on the following play.
Josh Lambo followed with a 53-yard field goal attempt that was off the mark.
10-11. Special teams | By @Eric_L_Smith
When the Vikings kicked …
Kai Forbath stood out at the end of practice as the veteran nailed all four of his attempts. He made a 33-yard extra point try before successfully hitting from 41, 50 and 54 yards. Daniel Carlson made two of his three tries. The rookie hit from 38 and 53 yards but missed from 46 yards out.
When the Jaguars kicked …
Lambo was spot on. He made a pair of tries from 33, 35 and 44 yards before adding a 49-yarder to go a perfect 7-for-7 in team drills.