3 Observations: Vikings 1st-Team Defense Stingy in Red Zone Passing Drill

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are halfway through Organized Team Activity practices.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer’s team was back at work Wednesday morning for its fifth OTA practice of 2019, and the second session open to the media.

Minnesota practiced for almost two hours outside at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center as players donned helmets, shells and shorts.

The Vikings have now completed half of their 10 scheduled voluntary OTA practices over the span of three weeks. Minnesota will also host a mandatory minicamp from June 11-13.

Here are three observations from Wednesday morning’s session:

1. Showing their mettle

The Vikings spent a good portion of Wednesday’s session working in the red zone, and it was the Vikings defense that ruled the day.

Minnesota’s first-team offense ran more than a dozen plays inside the 15-yard line, and only came away with one touchdown, as Kirk Cousins found Stefon Diggs for a 5-yard score.

But the Vikings defense won the day for the majority of the period, as Trae Waynes had a pass breakup to lead Minnesota’s secondary. The Vikings defense forced incompletions and throws short of the goal line with tight coverage.

A trio of players also had interceptions earlier in practice, as Waynes, Eric Kendricks and Derron Smith each snagged a turnover.

2. Mannion makes it count

The battle for the backup quarterback job between Sean Mannion, Kyle Sloter and Jake Browning likely won’t be decided for a few months, but it was Mannion who stood out Wednesday.

The former Oregon State star tossed a pair of touchdowns in the red zone, with the highlight being a 15-yard strike to a sliding Irv Smith, Jr., at the back left of the end zone.

Mannion also found rookie Dillon Mitchell and newcomer Jordan Taylor on touchdown passes inside the 10-yard line.

Browning, an undrafted rookie, also fared well in the red zone, as he threw two touchdowns to rookie wide receiver Davion Davis and another to rookie running back Alexander Mattison.

3. Bailey goes 7-for-7

Dan Bailey didn’t miss Wednesday, as the Vikings kicker made all seven field goals he attempted.

Bailey was good on six kicks ranging from 33 to 50 yards in a team session before Zimmer put him in a pressure situation.

The Vikings offense got into field goal range with the clock winding down, forcing Bailey and the rest of the special teams unit to rush onto the field.

Bailey calmly nailed the 45-yard attempt as time expired on the scoreboard.

In two practices open to the media, Bailey has made 12 of 13 field goals, with a long of 50 yards.

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