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3 Observations: Vikings Defense Closes Minicamp Strong

EAGAN, Minn. — Next stop, training camp.

The Vikings wrapped up their mandatory, three-day minicamp Thursday morning by practicing in helmets and shorts for less than 90 minutes at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. 

“We finished up on a good note, excited about where this team has the opportunity to go,” Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’re looking forward to getting back in about five weeks.”

The session was Minnesota’s third and final practice this week, all of which are open to the media.

The Vikings held 10 Organized Team Activity practices over the past few weeks in Eagan. Training camp is scheduled to begin in late July at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

Here are three observations from Thursday’s session:

1. Defensive struggle 

The Vikings spent most of Thursday’s session in a game-like situation as the first-team offense went against the first-team defense before the second and third units on both sides of the ball rotated in.

The defenses had their way most of the day as they forced punts on most drives, with a few big plays sprinkled in. 

Rookie cornerback Mike Hughes corralled a tipped pass for an interception and a big return. Hughes added an impressive pass breakup along the sideline. Linebacker Anthony Barr had a pass breakup and was quick to react on a screen pass. 

The biggest offensive play of the day — and the only touchdown scored — came when quarterback Trevor Siemian found wide receiver Tavarres King for a 30-plus yard score down the right sideline that drew a big reaction from Minnesota’s offensive players.

2. Focusing on fundamentals

The intensity will ramp up over the next few months as the 2018 season draws near.

But on the final day of minicamp, the Vikings spent some time working on fundamentals, as it is the little things that sometimes mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Minnesota’s defensive backs practiced pouncing on fumbles and taking them the other way in individual drills, while the Vikings linebackers worked on dropping into coverage before making a beeline for running backs in the flat.

Wide receivers and tight ends worked on red zone-specific routes early on in practice.

3. Honoring the past

The Vikings hosted numerous alumni members at TCO Performance Center on Thursday as Zimmer invited former players to watch practice and attend a barbeque.

Zimmer also took time to recognize them, as he introduced each one of them in a post-practice huddle in front of the team.

Vikings Legends attending included former Vikings Head Coach Jerry Burns, running back Chuck Foreman and wide receiver Gene Washington. 

Vikings players gave each alumni member a hearty round of applause when they were introduced.

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