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3 Observations: Cousins to Jefferson Highlights Red Zone Work

EAGAN, Minn. — Players wore shells under their jerseys for the first time of 2023 Vikings Training Camp presented by Omni Viking Lakes Hotel, but much of Friday's session was a walk-through.

The Vikings shed their helmets while utilizing two outdoor fields for an extended walk-through period.

Cloud formations grew darker and more ominous before lightning in the area prompted the sounding of an airhorn.

Everyone filed their way to the team's Indoor Practice Facility at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center to finish the session, which had already resumed before a downpour.

Players are scheduled to wear shells under their jerseys on Saturday, the first practice open to fans.

Not participating: Jalen Nailor, Danielle Hunter and Brian O'Neill did not participate; O'Neill continued his rehab work. Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum took reps with the first team at outside linebacker; Olisaemeka Udoh took reps at right tackle in place of O'Neill.

Here are three observations from Friday's training camp practice presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:

1. Cousins to Jefferson highlights red zone

The Vikings spent some time Friday in 7-on-7 drills in the low red zone.

Kirk Cousins' completion to Justin Jefferson was poetry in motion. Cousins targeted Jefferson while he was defended by Byron Murphy, Jr.

Cousins' placement of the ball was in the back of the end zone, removing Murphy's potential help on the play from safety Harrison Smith and allowing Jefferson to showcase his ability to catch the football in traffic.

That connection occurred at the start of the second series of four plays by the first-team offense and defense.

The Vikings defense then came up with stops on passes to Trishton Jackson, Johnny Mundt and Kene Nwangwu.

Murphy delivered a nice pass breakup on the throw over the middle to Mundt.

With his first four snaps in the drill, Cousins completed three of four, connecting with Mundt on a nice snag by the tight end that drew cheers from teammates, as well as Jackson and K.J. Osborn.

The one incompletion in that stretch occurred on a pass broken up by Joejuan Williams.

Nick Mullens completed all four of his passes during the period, completing a checkdown to Ty Chandler, a pass just shy of the goal line to tight end Nick Muse, and throws to Jalen Reagor and Lucky Jackson.

2. Situational fundamentals

The session ended with the team walking through the motions and mechanics of a late-game scenario with a 21-20 score and 1:20 remaining on the clock.

Although it was at a slower pace, it showed Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's continued emphasis on key moments in games, and the team's commitment to finishing the session despite the rain.

The Vikings success (11-0) in one-score games fueled their 13-4 mark last season.

3. Tip drill

During position drills, the Vikings defensive line worked on disengaging from blocking dummies to get their hands up and tip passes at the line of scrimmage.

Instead of using regular footballs, however, defensive line coach Chris Rumph threw NERF footballs to reduce the aggregate number of impacts on the linemen's hands.