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3 Observations: Thielen & Jefferson More Involved as Vikings Close with Walk-Through

EAGAN, Minn. — That's a wrap on preseason practices for the Vikings.

Minnesota held a lighter session Wednesday, practicing in helmets and shorts for roughly 90 minutes at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. And most of it was a walk-through to help players' recover after Tuesday's full-team scrimmage.

Anthony Barr, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, Tyler Conklin, Dan Chisena, Evin Ksiezarczyk, Dru Samia, Christian Darrisaw and Josh Metellus did not practice.

Mattison rode a stationary bike for the early part of practice, and Darrisaw participated in a workout outside the weight room.

Minnesota's preseason finale is Friday in Kansas City. Kickoff is 7 p.m. (CT). This is most likely the last edition of observations for 2021, as practices going forward are expected to have a reduction of media access.

Here are three observations from Wednesday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:

1. Thielen, Jefferson get more involved

The health of the Vikings top two receivers appear to be on the upswing, as Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen both practiced in Wednesday.

Yes, most of it was a walk-through, but it was a good sign after both had either been limited or hadn't practiced at all.

Jefferson on Wednesday was not wearing the red, non-contact jersey he donned Monday and Tuesday. He worked on routes with Kirk Cousins in the red zone late in practice. Thielen, who got banged up in Saturday's preseason game against the Colts, went through team drills after not practicing Monday and Tuesday.

Wide receiver Dede Westbrook has also seen his involvement go up in recent days as he makes progress from an ACL injury suffered during the 2020 season.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.

2. A look at the O-line

The Vikings are a bit thin on the offensive line at the moment, but they appear to be set on their starting five up front.

The combination, from left to right, features Rashod Hill, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Olisaemeka Udoh and Brian O'Neill was featured in the final preseason practice.

While it remains to be seen if that group starts Friday at Arrowhead Stadium, there are still backup spots that could be up for grabs.

Minnesota's second-team unit was, from left to right, Blake Brandel, Kyle Hinton, Mason Cole, Dakota Dozier and Zack Bailey.

At one point, the Vikings mixed the lines and had Brandel, Hinton and Cole next to Udoh and O'Neill.

Cohl Cabral took Cole's place as the third-team center, while rookie Wyatt Davis subbed in for Dozier on the third team.

3. Dillon, Davidson get 1st-team reps

Irv Smith, Jr., has repeatedly shown this summer that he is ready to be the Vikings top tight end in 2021. And Conklin is a key piece to the offense, but he has missed recent practices.

With those two players already established, the Vikings gave first-team reps to two younger tight ends Wednesday.

Brandon Dillon and Zach Davidson took first-team reps with the starters, with both also mixing in with the backups, too. Tight end Shane Zylstra, who caught a 51-yard touchdown pass in Tuesday's scrimmage, primarily lined up with the reserves.