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O'Connell Plans Vikings Scrimmage; Irv Smith, Jr. Returns

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings will close their 2022 preseason against the Broncos in Denver at 8 p.m. (CT) Saturday, but Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's primary focus is two more practices this week, including a scrimmage Thursday.

"Big week for us, practice tomorrow," O'Connell said. "We'll have a ramped-up scrimmage feel on Thursday where we'll really try to get some reps and simulate a game in a lot of ways with quarters and a halftime but still along the preparation lines of getting our guys ready to go" for Green Bay on Sept. 11.

The Vikings were back in action in helmets, shells and shorts less than 48 hours from falling 17-7 against the 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The players who were required by league rules to wear Guardian Caps during part of training camp were no longer doing so on Monday.

Minnesota fell to 0-2 in exhibition games, but the team is being intentional for its Week 1 home game against Green Bay for obvious reasons.

The fan portion of training camp has ended, but Monday's session was completely open to members of the media. That will also be the case for Tuesday and Thursday. Players are off Wednesday and travel to Denver Friday.

Irv Smith, Jr., was back on the practice field in a limited but encouraging basis.

"First and foremost, he looks like he's in great shape, so I credit our sports performance staff and [Director of Player Performance] Josh Hingst for keeping him ready to go and engaged despite him being out of surgery and not being able to do much," O'Connell said. "I thought he moved great today; he'll continue to progress into real football, but he's made great strides, and I'm proud of the way Irv's attacked this thing.

"He's been super dialed-in in the meeting rooms, in walk-through," O'Connell added. "[Tight ends] coach [Brian] Angelichio, [pass game specialist/game management coordinator Ryan] Cordell [have been] keeping him sharp, and now we've just got to see exactly where he's at, being able to put it all together for what we can really put on his plate on Sept. 11. I'm happy with where Irv's at right now and hoping to continue to progress him toward game action."

Cornerback Andrew Booth, Jr., who left the Vikings-49ers game with an ankle injury, did not practice.

"We'll see how he progresses throughout the week, but the hope is, no matter what, he should be greenlit for the Green Bay game," O'Connell said of the 2022 second-round pick.

Running back Ty Chandler, linebackers Chazz Surratt and Blake Lynch, guard Jesse Davis, receiver Dan Chisena, outside linebacker Janarius Robinson and defensive lineman Harrison Phillips did not participate.

O'Connell said Phillips worked his way through a "real minor" ankle injury last week to practice against the 49ers.

"I give him a lot of credit for that," O'Connell said. "He's truly day to day, just wearing out those guys getting treatment and trying to get back in there and take his full reps."

Safety Lewis Cine received treatment Monday that led to another question for O'Connell.

"Everything is OK. Just like I said, Lew played some real snaps the other night, 48 hours, we're actually less than 48 hours out of that game," O'Connell said. "Lew did some real good things in the game. He just had a little contusion or whatever Tyler [Williams] and Uriah [Myrie] are calling it. I don't worry one bit about Lew."

Receiver Blake Proehl and linebacker Ryan Connelly remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Quarterback Nick Mullens, who was acquired in a trade with Las Vegas Monday morning, had not arrived at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. The trade for Mullens is pending a physical.

"We'll kind of see where he's at when he gets here," O'Connell said. "Obviously [he's] just coming out of a game himself very recently. We'll obviously put him through a physical and start meeting with him and just kind of see where he's at.

"I have not determined true playing time for anybody on our roster yet," O'Connell added. "We have a pretty strong plan in place, but as we have multiple times, whatever I may have thought coming into training camp, we've made adjustments each week. We have a set plan, but it's always adaptable based on what is best for each player."