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3 Observations: Running Backs Get Crack at 3rd Spot

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings officially kicked off training camp Wednesday afternoon as they held their first practice at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

Rookies, all quarterbacks and other select players practiced in helmets and shells for more than 90 minutes, with some of the practice getting splashed by a bit of rain.

The Vikings are scheduled to have a walk-through session Thursday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. before having practice from 2:45-4:30 p.m. with the same group of players.

Remaining veterans are slated to report on Friday, but the rookies practice for that day has been canceled so the team can attend the memorial service for offensive line coach Tony Sparano. The first full-team practice is scheduled for Saturday.

Here are three observations from Wednesday’s session:

1. Watching the running backs

One of the most interesting training camp battles could be for the third running back spot behind Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. Each of the three candidates — Mack Brown, Mike Boone and Roc Thomas — were on hand for Wednesday’s practice.

The trio split reps during team drills to give each a chance to make an early impression on the Vikings offensive coaches. Brown spent part of the 2017 season with the Vikings. Boone and Thomas were added as undrafted free agents this spring.

2. Extending a hand

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday that it wasn’t the time or place to think about bringing in another coach following the sudden passing of Sparano.

But with practice underway, the Vikings worked through the session with a multi-pronged approach.

Vikings tight end coach Clancy Barone, who was Denver’s offensive line coach in 2015 and 2016, spent time during individual drills with the group alongside assistant offensive line coach Andrew Janocko.

Zimmer and Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo also came over to watch drills and offer advice.

Vikings senior offensive assistant coach Todd Downing spent individual drills with the tight ends.

3. “Kirk Cousins!”

It’s a safe bet that Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has quickly grown into the most popular player on the roster. That was the case at Wednesday’s practice, as fans wanted to interact with Cousins — even while practice was going on.

A group of children sitting in the first row of seats tried to get the quarterback’s attention multiple times during practice by shouting “Kirk Cousins!” over and over in the quarterback’s direction.

Cousins eventually gave them a wave as he trotted out and lined up at cornerback on the scout team defense during a team drill.

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