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3 Observations: Cousins, Thielen Connect on Deep Ball

EAGAN, Minn. — There was a packed house Saturday afternoon at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

The Vikings practiced in helmets and shorts for the second consecutive day, and the team is scheduled to don full pads Sunday.

Of the 85 players who do not have a physically unable to perform (PUP) or non-football injury (NFI) designation, all but wide receiver Jeff Badet practiced Saturday.

Here are three observations from Saturday's session:

1. Going deep

Earlier this offseason, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins talked about the need for explosive plays.

The Vikings offense got one Saturday, and it came after a deep ball to wide receiver Adam Thielen.

Minnesota was working in smaller groups with four defenders against four offensive players when Thielen was matched up against the reserves. He sped down the field and gained separation for what would have been around a 65-yard gain.

The play happened in front of the largest section of fans, and the crowd left out a rousing cheer for the play.

2. Mixing and matching

The usual stars were in attendance, as Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and Dalvin Cook went through Saturday's practice.

But there were also plenty of players who rotated in with the first team as Minnesota's coaches tried to get a look at the offensive depth.

Besides Rudolph, rookie Irv Smith, Jr., and Tyler Conklin worked with the first team at tight end. Running backs Ameer Abdullah and Alexander Mattison also took first-team reps.

Chad Beebe, Jordan Taylor, Laquon Treadwell, Bisi Johnson and Dillon Mitchell also saw some work with Cousins, as did fullback C.J. Ham.

3. Griffen, Hunter bring the heat

Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter have combined for 77 total sacks over the past four seasons, with each player making at least one Pro Bowl.

The duo looked in midseason form Saturday, as both would have recorded sacks during the session.

Griffen worked the edge in one drill. Hunter wasn't fooled by a play-action pass and closed in on the quarterback.

Griffen engaged in a spirited but respectful battles with left tackle Riley Reiff, while Hunter routinely tangled with right tackle Brian O'Neill.