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3 Observations: Thielen Shines at Friday's Practice at U.S. Bank Stadium

EAGAN, Minn. — For the first time in 244 days, the Vikings took the field at U.S. Bank Stadium.

And while Friday's session was only a practice with a heavy amount of team drills involved, it was a beautiful sight to see.

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 Friday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:

View photos of Vikings players from Verizon Vikings Training Camp practice at U.S. Bank Stadium.

1. Home, sweet home

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer wanted Friday to feel as much like a preseason game as possible. He had good reason to, as 29 of the 80 players on the roster had never been to the stadium.

Upon arriving, players donned helmets and shoulder pads on the sideline before retreating to the locker room. They then came out in position groups as they would in a real pregame environment, with the specialists, returners and quarterbacks and centers out first.

Players then went through their usual pregame warmups before practice started, but the environment certainly had the feel of the real thing.

Things won't exactly be normal for the 2020 season — at least to start — as the Vikings recently announced they will not have fans for at least the first two home games of the season.

But Zimmer has his team ready for that, too, as they were able to get familiar with not having fans while adapting to the drone of crowd noise in the background.

Zimmer had the Vikings play a simulated first half on Friday that gave every player on the roster a chance to take the field at U.S. Bank Stadium.

2. Thielen, Hollins stand out among WR

Adam Thielen looked in midseason form Friday, as he finished with three catches for 65 yards.

His best reception of the day came on a one-hander over Holton Hill down the left sideline that went for 33 yards. He also had a 15-yard catch on third-and-10 to move the chains later in practice, something the Minnesota native has been so great at doing in recent years.

Thielen has looked sharp throughout camp. But with the intensity upped Friday afternoon, he clearly showed he is Minnesota's No. 1 wide receiver.

Alexander Hollins is also making his case for a roster spot. The 2019 undrafted free agent looked smooth again Friday.

He hauled in a 35-yard pass for the longest play of Friday's practice, and later drew a flag for pass interference near the goal line later in the session.

3. Defense brings the heat

The Vikings are an impressive 23-9 (.719 winning percentage) at U.S. Bank Stadium since the venue opened in 2016, and they have been known for their vaunted defense in that time span.

Zimmer and his defensive staff likely came away impressed with a handful of players, and a system that generated a handful of sacks on Friday.

Ifeadi Odenigbo, Eric Wilson and Jalyn Holmes notched sacks with the first-team defense, while another was credited as a team sack for the second-team unit.

Anthony Barr also stood out in the team portion when he put pressure on Cousins in practice with a strong pass rush.

Other defensive plays of note included a near interception from linebacker Eric Kendricks, plus a nice pass breakup from rookie cornerback Jeff Gladney.