EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings put in good, quality work Monday afternoon as they went through their most physical practice to date in camp.
Minnesota went through a two-hour practice amid humid and sticky conditions at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Defensive end Danielle Hunter did not practice. Neither did linebacker Ben Gedeon, who is currently on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List.
Here are three observations from Monday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:
1. Dialed in on special teams
The Vikings started, and ended, practice with special teams work, giving dozens of young players valuable reps to try and earn a spot on the roster or practice squad.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf opened practice by having players work on downing punts inside the 5-yard line, but the intensity soon went up a notch.
Maalouf later had players go full-speed on punt coverage drills, with a pair of defenders tasked with preventing the gunner from getting to the returner.
Tony Brooks-James and Alexander Hollins stood out as gunners, while the duos of Jeff Gladney and Josh Metellus, and Cameron Dantzler and Steven Parker, fared well in limiting their man down the field.
2. Physicality ramps up
You can bet Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was a fan of 1-on-1 drills in the early portion of practice, especially as defensive backs used press coverage on wide receivers.
Holton Hill opened the session with a pass breakup, and Mike Hughes later nearly had an interception. Nate Meadors later had a pass breakup on a deep shot for Adam Thielen.
The defensive backs made the pass catchers fight for every ball, as Bisi Johnson made a pair of great contested catches.
There were also some good battles in 1-on-1 drills in the trenches, especially between Riley Reiff and Ifeadi Odenigbo, and Garrett Bradbury and Shamar Stephen.
On the hottest day of practice so far, the intensity was also at its peak.
3. Defensive vets lead the way
There were plenty of questions surrounding Zimmer's defense entering camp, but his veteran players have stood out so far.
That was the case again Monday. Safety Anthony Harris and linebacker Eric Kendricks broke up passes on back-to-back plays during team drills.
Anthony Barr was noticeable on a few run plays, while Harrison Smith was his usual self all over the field.
As the dog days of camp drag on, the Vikings veteran defenders have consistently shown the unit how to keep improving.