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3 Observations: OLBs Try New Things, Lewis Cine Takes Some First-Team Reps

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings wrapped up their on-field spring program Wednesday with the second day of a mandatory minicamp.

First-year Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said after the session that players will participate in meetings Thursday, and a barbecue lunch will serve as a final teambuilding opportunity before players and coaches head across the country.

Quarterback Nate Stanley, receivers K.J. Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Blake Proehl and linebacker Ryan Connelly did not practice.

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

1. Trying new things

The outside linebackers, led by Mike Smith’s grit, participated in a pass rush drill that was new to the offseason program.

The rushers practiced their paths to the quarterback, racing from their stance around a ring, fighting through blocks of a would-be offensive lineman and coming around to the quarterback. The caveat at the end was a taught rope, about head height, that looked almost as a clothesline for players to avoid by staying low. Maintaining the lower stance at the end of the plays could possibly help with pursuing the league's QB escape artists.

The group also went through a much more foreign drill for edge rushers. They sprinted away from O'Connell, who joined the group to lob passes for the players to try to track. Undrafted rookie Zach McCloud followed two of the passes into his hands. Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum, who primarily have been defensive ends since joining Minnesota, tracked one of the passes lofted by the head coach.

2. Reserves sprinkle with first team

The Vikings, under a request from O'Connell, had the offensive and defensive line refrain from going full-speed but did allow the skills positions to play faster and compete at the catch points.

Minnesota also used the day to take some plays off of veterans' plates.

Kris Boyd logged some time at cornerback opposite Cameron Dantzler in place of Patrick Peterson.

First-round pick Lewis Cine spent some time at safety alongside Harrison Smith and in place of him. Cine recorded a pass breakup on a pass intended for tight end Ben Ellefson during an end-of-half situational drill with the second-team units.

By the end of the first-team's situational drill, the Vikings had the combination of Janarius Robinson and Luiji Vilain at outside linebacker.

3. Defensive stands

O'Connell created a situational drill to finish practice in which the first- and second-team offense got the ball at its own 40-yard line, with 1:10 on the clock in the second quarter. The score displayed was 14-10.

Kirk Cousins completed three consecutive passes to Adam Thielen (10 yards) and Bisi Johnson (11 and 15 yards) to move the ball to the 24-yard line. He spiked the ball to stop the clock with 29 seconds remaining.

Cousins had to throw the next one out of bounds to prevent the equivalent of a sack. His third-and-10 pass to Adam Thielen was broken up by Chandon Sullivan.

Rather than kicking at that point, the second-team units entered the field with Kellen Mond at quarterback.

Mond converted a third-and-5 with a 17-yard pass to newcomer Albert Wilson, advancing the ball to the 38-yard line with 39 seconds remaining.

A pass interference call against Akayleb Evans while covering fellow rookie Jalen Nailor later moved the ball from the 30 to the 6. A pass on first down to Thomas Hennigan was snared with one hand, but the undrafted free agent was unable to get both feet inside the back line of the end zone.

Mond's next attempt was snagged by Parry Nickerson, who returned the ball down the field as dozens of defenders streamed onto the field to celebrate the pick.