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3 Observations: Thielen, Treadwell Clutch on Last-Minute Drive

EAGAN, Minn. — Only one day of practice mercifully remains before the Vikings first preseason game of 2018.

Minnesota practiced for more than two hours on a windy but warm afternoon at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, and Vikings players are ready to play someone else. They will get that wish by squaring off against the Broncos in Denver at 8 p.m. (CT) on Saturday night.

The Vikings will switch things up Thursday, as they are scheduled to hold a walk-through from 12:30-1:30 p.m., followed by practice from 4:45-7 p.m. The team will fly to the Mile High City on Friday.

Here are three observations from Wednesday’s session:

1. Late-game heroics

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer put his team in another last-minute situation Wednesday, and it might have been the most entertaining session in all of camp.

The offense trailed 14-7 at the opposing 3-yard line with just over two minutes left. Quarterback Kirk Cousins found tight end Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown on a corner route near safety Andrew Sendejo to cut the deficit to one. Zimmer spiced things up to go for the lead, but the ensuing 2-point conversion failed.

The second-team defense then forced a three-and-out and a punt at the 2-minute warning, giving Cousins and the offense the ball at their own 30-yard line with 1 minute, 54 seconds left.

Cousins found Laquon Treadwell for 11 yards and a quick first down before the wide receiver snagged a 5-yard grab on third-and-3 to move the chains again.

Wide receiver Adam Thielen hauled in a 14-yard pass on third-and-10 from the opposing 47-yard line before running back Latavius Murray ran for 8 yards on second-and-7 to move the chains again.

All in all, the offense moved to the 23-yard line to get in range for kicker Kai Forbath, but Zimmer opted to end the drill without a field goal attempt with the offense down 14-13.

2. Cousins, Thielen connect in end zone

It was a triple dose of touchdowns Wednesday for Cousins and Thielen, as the Pro Bowl quarterback and the All-Pro receiver were red hot in the red zone.

Thielen made a great catch in the corner of the end zone in 1-on-1 drills against cornerback Trevon Mathis, before doubling back for more in 7-on-7 drills inside the 10-yard line.

The Minnesota native first beat cornerback Mackensie Alexander over the middle, and later took a quick screen pass into the end zone from 6 yards out.

3. Shuffling the deck

The offensive lines were mixed and matched as center Pat Elflein (PUP list) and linemen Nick Easton, Mike Remmers and Colby Gossett did not practice.

The combinations for the big boys up front were:

First team, from left to right: Riley Reiff, Tom Compton, Cornelius Edison, Danny Isidora and Rashod Hill.

Second team, from left to right: Storm Norton, Aviante Collins, Josh Andrews, Cedrick Lang and Brian O’Neill.

Third team, from left to right: Dieugot Joseph, Collins, J.P. Quinn, Lang and Norton.

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