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3 Observations: Vikings Fine-Tune Before Preseason Opener

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings held a later-than-usual practice Thursday and reached a milestone at training camp.

It is now time for the first preseason game of the year. Minnesota will square off against the Broncos in Denver at 8 p.m. (CT) on Saturday night.

Minnesota practiced for more than two hours on a pleasant evening at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

The team will fly to the Mile High City on Friday. The Vikings will resume practice Monday. The team is scheduled to hold a walk-through from 10:30-11:30 a.m., followed by practice from 2:45-5 p.m.

Here are three observations from Thursday's session:

1. The real deal

The first preseason game of the year is generally regarded as an exhibition contest that gives players a chance to get back into the swing of things and get a feel for live game action again.

But at Thursday's practice, the Vikings almost treated things as if there were a regular season game on the horizon.

Both the first-team offense and defense went against a scout team that used "cards," which are plays that the opposing team usually likes to run. And at one point, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins used a silent count in preparation for the road environment in Denver.

2. Kickers end on a high note

The competition between Kai Forbath and Daniel Carlson rages on, and neither appears to be letting up.

Both kickers made all four of their attempts on Thursday, with each hitting from 33, 42, 47 and 54 yards.

Carlson's 42-yard attempt glanced off the left upright and bounced in.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday that he has decided on a plan for the kickers for Saturday's game but did not make the decision public.

3. Running backs get reps

If Thursday's practice was any indication, a trio of Minnesota running backs could see substantial playing time against Denver in the battle for the third spot.

The tandem of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray took some reps during team drills and in a red-zone session, but the majority of the work went to Mike Boone, Roc Thomas and Mack Brown.

At one point during a team drill, the Vikings offense ran 12 plays, all but one of which were runs.

Boone and Thomas each took four carries apiece while Brown ran three times in the session.