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3 Observations: A Tribute to Bud Grant, Fine-Tuning Details

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings overlapped Tuesday's training camp practice with Family Night at TCO Stadium.

The evening presented an opportunity to pay homage to Vikings history while celebrating families and welcoming young people.

It's the kind of gathering that would have made Bud Grant smile on the night the team announced plans to wear a “Bud” patch on its Classic uniforms in Week 1 when Minnesota hosts Tampa Bay on Sept. 10 to open the 2023 regular season.

Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf announced the plans to honor the icon, who passed away in March at age 95, during a media session before practice and also spoke to fans during an interview with Vikings Entertainment Network's Tatum Everett.

Wilf told media members, "No single individual more defines Minnesota sports and the Minnesota Vikings brand than Coach Grant."

"He had such great wisdom and just telling us some of the history and some of the stories, you know it wasn't always about football with him, it was a lot of life stories and leading and the way he carried himself in a very quiet way but a lot of wisdom there, great family man, and he loved the Minnesota Vikings," Wilf added. "He was always here as a supporter, and I think we were just blessed to have him in our building, really until the end, I mean he was here.

"I know [Head Coach Kevin] O'Connell, all the coaches we've had here have benefited from having him around the building, and you can feel the void in the building when he's not here," Wilf continued. "I know he's missed all around, but as ownership he was so supportive of us, always gave us advice when he needed to on how to deal with and explain the relationships with the alumni, and some of the stories and learning some of the richness of the history here and how great the people are that helped build this team and organization."

Wilf also spent a few moments talking about the current state of the team, which he has done annually at training camp. This year, the Vikings are coming off a 13-4 mark and NFC North title.

"We traditionally have always had very high expectations, but I can tell you we remain very confident in our leadership here," Wilf said. "Coach O'Connell and [General Manager] Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah] have really set a great culture here, and we're fully supportive of it and excited to see how in the second season, it's really taken hold here, and how the players have taken it on. I think there's a great energy about us and as I've said, a lot of young players, to see them taking big roles, and a lot of great developments, Coach [Brian] Flores taking over on defense.

"There's a lot of great elements and great culture that's setting in, and we as ownership are fully supportive of it and really excited for a great season ahead," he added.

Not participating: Trishton Jackson, Lucky Jackson, Kene Nwangwu, Jaquelin Roy and Jalen Nailor did not participate for a second consecutive day. Brian O'Neill participated in position drills but not team activities as he continues his ramp-up. T.J. Hockenson participated in position drills.

Here are three observations from Tuesday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:

1. Fine-tuning details

With players in helmets and shells instead of full pads, much of the team's efforts were above the neck. The team fine-tuned several details ahead of its preseason opener at Seattle, which is scheduled for a 9 p.m. (CT) kickoff Thursday.

Practice included a late-game situation where the offense needed to gain a first down but could call a timeout to stop the clock, a scenario where the offense needed to move the ball into field goal range and spike the football to stop the clock, and a "mayday" that involved hurrying the field goal unit onto the turf after a first down. The field goal was not attempted, but the mechanics looked clean as the Vikings tried to simulate a high-pressure situation.

Kirk Cousins made multiple connections with Justin Jefferson during the drill. He found K.J. Osborn several times during 7-on-7 drills.

The Vikings closed practice with a period that involved walk-throughs by the offense and defense.

2. Catches by big men

Vikings centers Garrett Bradbury and Austin Schlottmann showed they have good hand-eye coordination at the start of practice.

Both fielded a punt that was launched by the Jugs machine, generating rounds of applause.

The biggest crowd reaction, however, was provided by newcomer N'Keal Harry, who signed Sunday and has practiced both days since.

Harry is listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, the largest receiver on Minnesota's roster. He used his length and hustle to lay out for a pass along the sideline.

3. Special guests

Hockey Hall of Fame Mike Modano, the former Gophers and North Stars center, was able to visit TCO Stadium. 

WWE Superstar Shayna Baszler attended the practice. The longtime Vikings fan from South Dakota led the TCO Stadium crowd in the SKOL Chant to start practice.

Vikings Legends in the house included Chad Greenway, Randall McDaniel and Mike Morris.