EAGAN, Minn. — It was a picturesque scene as the Vikings hit the practice field Wednesday morning at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Minnesota practiced for roughly two hours, with 81 of 86 players in attendance for the voluntary session.
A handful of Vikings — defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Hercules Mata'afa, punter Britton Colquitt and cornerbacks Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney — were not seen around the practice field.
Wednesday's session was Minnesota's third voluntary Organized Team Activity practice of Phase III of the offseason program, but the first session open to the media. The sessions on June 2 and June 9 are also open to media members, as are all three mandatory minicamp practices (June 15-17).
There are 13 total offseason practices, with 10 OTAs and three sessions for mandatory minicamp.
Here are five observations from Wednesday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:
1. Cleveland at LG along new-look O-line
It appears Ezra Cleveland and Dakota Dozier have switched spots along the offensive line.
Cleveland, who started nine games at right guard as a rookie, lined up at left guard Wednesday. He was flanked by left tackle Rashod Hill and center Garrett Bradbury.
Dozier was at right guard after starting all 16 games at left guard in 2020. Brian O'Neill was in his usual spot as the starting right tackle.
A pair of rookie offensive linemen were with the second team Wednesday. First-rounder Christian Darrisaw was at left tackle, while third-rounder Wyatt Davis was at right guard.
The rest of the second unit included left guard Dru Samia, center Mason Cole and right tackle Olisaemeka Udoh.
Minnesota's third-team line consisted of, from left to right: Evin Ksiezarczyk, Kyle Hinton, Blake Brandel, Cohl Cabral and Zack Bailey.
2. Peterson makes strong early impression
Don't tell Patrick Peterson that it's only May.
The 10-year veteran brought a noticeable veteran presence to the practice field, and had some strong play to back it up.
Besides bringing focus on each rep, Peterson also swooped in for a pair of pass breakups while defending Adam Thielen during team drills.
Peterson, an eight-time Pro Bowler, was added as a free agent this offseason. He was with the first-team defense along with fellow cornerback Kris Boyd.
3. Divvying up reps at QB
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was obviously leading the starting offense in practice, and looked sharp as he enters Year 4 in Purple.
Cousins connected with tight end Irv Smith, Jr., a few times, and also displayed the usual chemistry with Thielen and Justin Jefferson.
Behind Cousins, a trio of quarterbacks all took reps with the second and third units.
Jake Browning and Nate Stanley divvied up snaps with the second team while rookie Kellen Mond mostly led the third team.
All in all, Cousins took more than half the snaps in 7-on-7 or full team drills, while the three youngsters split the other reps.
View photos of the Vikings second organized team activity on May 25 at the TCO Performance Center.
4. Thriving in the clutch
As usual with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Minnesota ran through a late-game situation at the end of practice.
This situation was late in a hypothetical fourth quarter, with the offense down 10-7 with one timeout and just over a minute left on the clock.
Roughly 70 yards from the end zone, Cousins went to work and had completions to Smith, Ameer Abdullah, Jefferson and Thielen to get the offense into field goal range with 10 seconds left.
Kicker Greg Joseph then hit a presumable game-tying field goal from 40 yards out in windy conditions. Andrew DePaola was the long snapper, with Zach Von Rosenberg as the holder with Colquitt not in attendance.
Stanley was then given a chance with the second team and also led his squad to a successful field goal. The second-year quarterback found Bisi Johnson for a pair of catches before K.J. Osborn made an acrobatic leaping grab.
Joseph was also good from 40 yards out on that attempt, which also included DePaola and Von Rosenberg as the battery.
5. Plenty of beef up front
Minnesota's defensive front featured an imposing look Wednesday with defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson working together.
Pierce was signed as a free agent in 2020 but opted out of the season. Tomlinson was added as a free agent this offseason.
The pair of linemen — who are a combined 659 pounds — should provide plenty of size up front to help a run defense that struggled mightily in 2020. The Vikings allowed 95-plus rushing yards in all but one game last season.
With Hunter not in attendance, Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum occupied the defensive end spots with the first unit.