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3 Observations: Alexander, Vikings Defense Secure Late-Game ‘Victory’ in OTA Drill

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are close to putting a bow on Organized Team Activity practices.

Minnesota hit the practice field again Tuesday morning for the Vikings eighth OTA practice of the spring, and the third session open to the media.

Vikings players wore helmets, shells and shorts as they practiced outside Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center on a picturesque day.

The Vikings have now completed eight of their 10 scheduled voluntary OTA practices over the span of three weeks. Minnesota will also host a mandatory minicamp from June 11-13.

Here are three observations from Tuesday morning’s session:

1. Last-ditch effort

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer gave his offense a chance to win the game in a two-minute drill at the end of practice on Tuesday.

The offense had the ball at the opposing 31-yard line down 28-23 with 2:03 left on the clock in the fourth quarter.

The sequence began with a successful play, as Kirk Cousins found C.J. Ham for a 17-yard gain on a screen thanks to a strong block by Riley Reiff on Harrison Smith.

But it was the defense that then rose up, as the offense gained four yards on the next four plays.

Dalvin Cook had back-to-back 2-yard gains to bring up third-and-6 at the 10-yard line, but Cousins couldn’t find Chad Beebe in the back of the end zone.

Cousins then looked for Beebe again on fourth down, but the pass was deflected by Mackensie Alexander to secure the “win.”

2. What a catch

Vikings wide receiver Jordan Taylor has turned heads during OTAs, and he had the play of the day on Tuesday during a red-zone drill.

Taylor, who was with Denver from 2015-2018 but missed all of last season after bi-lateral hip surgeries, showed off his length and athleticism in the end zone on a pass from Cousins.

The 27-year-old ran a quick wheel route and managed to stretch out and outjump cornerback Holton Hill while keeping his feet in bounds. The play drew hearty cheers from Minnesota’s offensive players.

A pair of tight ends also had scores, as Kyle Rudolph caught a 7-yard touchdown from Cousins, and rookie Irv Smith, Jr., hauled in a 4-yard score from Sean Mannion.

3. Punt returners galore

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf had a simple answer last week when he was asked how many players were competing for the punt returner job.

A lot.

That was certainly the case Tuesday, as the Vikings had a dozen players at one point working on returning punts.

The group included a mix of offensive and defensive players, including Adam Thielen, Beebe, Taylor, Ameer Abdullah, Hill and Brandon Zylstra. Others in the group were Jeff Badet, Craig James, Dillon Mitchell, Bisi Johnson, Davion Davis and Duke Thomas.

The group stood in a line as one returner trotted out to midfield and faced away from the punter. Once the ball was kicked, the returner ran roughly 10 yards down the field and tracked the ball.

The group was thinned down later on during a team drill, as Beebe, Taylor and Davis were the three players back to return punts.

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