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3 Observations: Cousins Celebrates Birthday with Red Zone Success

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings upped the tempo and the atmosphere at Wednesday's practice from Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, which lasted for an hour and 45 minutes.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer incorporated some crowd noise on speakers into the practice to help get a game-like feel. He also put his first-team units in a hurry-up situation against each other.

Defensive end Danielle Hunter, defensive tackle Armon Watts and wide receiver Quartney Davis did not practice. Neither did linebacker Ben Gedeon, who is currently on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List.

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

1. Cousins, Rudolph thrive inside the 20

The Vikings spent the majority of practice working on red-zone situations, whether it was in team periods or 1-on-1 drills.

Kirk Cousins, who celebrated his 32nd birthday Wednesday, was sharp as he fired a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Kyle Rudolph against the first-team defense.

That connection in the red zone should come as no surprise, as eight of Rudolph's 10 career touchdown passes from Cousins have come from inside the 20-yard line.

Cousins also looked good in 1-on-1 drills in the red zone, as he connected with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson for two scores apiece. Cousins also found Bisi Johnson for a score in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Hill shows consistency

Holton Hill has focused on being consistent so far in Verizon Vikings Training Camp, and he put forth another solid day Wednesday.

Hill batted away a Cousins pass intended for Thielen on the left side of the end zone in a team red-zone drill and later forced a takeaway.

With the Vikings first-team offense in the red zone, Hill popped the ball free from tight end Irv Smith, Jr., and Minnesota's defense recovered. Smith came back quickly with a nice catch for a touchdown.

3. Kendricks shows sneaky skills

There's no question Eric Kendricks has proven himself to be one of the league's top coverage linebackers, as evident by his 2019 First-Team All-Pro selection.

But the 6-foot, 232-pound linebacker showed off his pass rush ability Wednesday, winning each of his reps in 1-on-1 drills against running backs and tight ends.

Kendricks later would have likely recorded a sack on Cousins in the red zone, but he obviously held up and allowed the pass to occur.

Kendricks has 9.0 sacks in his career, four of which came during his rookie season in 2015.