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3 Observations: Defensive Ends Bring Heat, Variety of Moves

MANKATO, Minn. —The Vikings practiced with the whole team for a second straight day, their final outing in helmets and shorts before three straight days of donning full pads.

Minnesota opted to flip a couple of players, swapping in Edmond Robinson for Emmanuel Lamur at weakside linebacker with the first team and rookie Pat Elflein in for Nick Easton at center.

"We're just mixing it a little bit," Head Coach Mike Zimmer told beat writers on Friday afternoon.

The Vikings are scheduled to have a walk-through on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and their first full-pads practice of 2017 from 2:45 to 5:10 p.m.

Here are three observations from Friday's practice:

1. Hunter and Griffen and B-Rob

Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen have taken first-team reps at the defensive end spots, and Brian Robison has taken second-team reps and also continued his role as an inside rusher in the Vikings nickel package.

Minnesota was the only team in the NFL to have three defensive ends with 7.0 or more sacks, and the trio combined for 28 of the Vikings 41 quarterback takedowns in 2016.

Each was able to execute a variety of pass rushes. Hunter had two explosions off the line of scrimmage that had him in the backfield quickly.

Griffen won with a spin move, and Robison did damage from the interior.

2. Floyd and Treadwell make diving grabs

Michael Floyd drew cheers from an ample crowd with a deep reception during 1-on-1 drills, but an even tougher grab occurred in the team period.

Floyd showed nice extension to reach for the ball away from him and strong hands to secure it despite solid coverage. The effort garnered another cheer from the crowd and even a high-five from Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

Laquon Treadwell bounced back from dropping an easy pass to make a diving grab of his own.

3. Sherels in mix to return kicks?

The Vikings are entering the 2017 in search for a new kickoff returner after the departure of Cordarrelle Patterson for the Raiders and are looking at multiple options.

Marcus Sherels, who has been one of the best punt returners in the game, joined rookies Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley, as well as Isaac Fruechte in kickoff return drills on Friday.

Sherels returned 16 kickoffs 445 yards (27.8 average) in the 2011 season and 16 more for 422 yards (26.4 average) in the following year before the Vikings drafted Patterson. Since then, Sherels has returned eight additional kickoffs a total of 178 yards.

He later showed his nifty footwork by eluding Trae Waynes and rookie Eric Wilson in a containment drill and capped his day with an impressive pass breakup against Cayleb Jones on a pass from Taylor Heinicke.

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