EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings wrapped their week of practices Friday in helmets, shells and shorts as the team readies to open its preseason at 3:25 p.m. Sunday against the Raiders in Las Vegas.
Minnesota will be the final team to take the field this preseason (Las Vegas participated in the Hall of Fame Game last week).
Head Coach Kevin O'Connell has appreciated the opportunity to treat this week's schedule similar to a regular-season week with a Sunday game.
Along those lines, Friday's session was less intense than a normal training camp session.
Kirk Cousins did not participate. O'Connell announced before practice that the QB had tested positive for COVID-19 but is not severely ill.
In addition to Cousins, guard/center Chris Reed, receiver Thomas Hennigan and defensive lineman Jullian Taylor did not participate.
Receiver Blake Proehl and linebacker Ryan Connelly remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.
Here are three observations from Friday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:
1. Working the red zone
It's quite common for a team to work in the red zone on Fridays before Sunday games.
Sean Mannion opened Minnesota's 7-on-7 red zone drills with the first team.
After incompletions to Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, Mannion closed with two touchdown throws to K.J. Wright.
Kellen Mond was unable to connect with Ihmir Smith-Marsette but then threw touchdowns to Ty Chandler and Bisi Johnson.
The first-team secondary during the drill included Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum at safety, Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler, Sr., at corner and Chandon Sullivan at nickel.
The second-team secondary included Lewis Cine and Josh Metellus at safety, Akayleb Evans and Kris Boyd at corner and Parry Nickerson at nickel.
While the Vikings skills players were in the 7-on-7, outside linebackers coach/pass rush specialist Mike Smith was going through hand-fighting techniques with each of Minnesota's edge rushers.
Za'Darius Smith has credited the coach and Vikings assistant head coach Mike Pettine with helping take his game to another level.
Other Vikings players are learning some of Smith's techniques up close and personal to refine an undermentioned aspect of effective edge players.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 14, 2023.
3. Hype man
Second-year linebacker Chazz Surratt generated the largest reaction of the day from Eric Kendricks.
Surratt stayed stride for stride with Dalvin Cook on a deep pass and had perfect timing when he reached his hand and knocked the ball away.
Kendricks, who has recorded 45 passes defended in his career (including 12 in 2019), ran over from the opposite sideline to congratulate Surratt on the play.