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3 Observations: Red Zone Focus, Extra Work at the Core

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Wednesday reached and passed the midpoint of their three-day mandatory minicamp with a focus in the red zone.

Here are three observations presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:

1. Red zone focus

The Vikings were laser focused on the red zone, spending significant time inside the 20-yard line.

The team progressively advanced with quarterbacks throwing to receiving targets against air before lining up for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

During a particularly strong stretch for the offense in 7-on-7, Sam Darnold threw touchdowns to receivers Trishton Jackson and Jordan Addison, Nick Mullens hit Robert Tonyan for scores on consecutive reps and J.J. McCarthy found receiver Lucky Jackson for a score.

McCarthy almost made it a two-fer, but a pass to Trent Sherfield, Sr., was just beyond the receiver's outstretched right arm.

2. Extra work at the core

The Vikings followed the all-up by adding another short session of red zone 7-on-7 for the developmental squad. As that group was working, Vikings defensive linemen and linebackers jogged over to a spot and circled up to go through an extra abs workout.

New outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard brought that addition from his time in Houston, and it's quickly grown.

"When we first started doing this abs thing, we probably had two people out here. Now you see we've got the DBs out here and the d-line," Greenard said during an interview with media members. "I think it's brought us so much closer after we get through grinding and having these tough days out here. It's going to make the team carry on during camp."

As Greenard's interview continued, a wave of defensive backs jogged over to the spot previously occupied by teammates to do their own set and chirp playfully for Greenard to join the fun.

"I'm not doing two sets in a row," Greenard laughed.

He explained the daily routine is a way to be efficient and help a critical group of muscles.

"We do everything else, but time can be constrained, and we've got to go to meetings, so why not get 10 minutes of abs and knock it out because at the end of the day, the core is everything," Greenard said. "I've had a lot of core injuries in the past and dealt with that. As we know, you keep your core strong, everything else is going to be better, injuries go down, so I'm a big, firm believer in doing core — and having a six-pack."

Defensive linemen Jonathan Bullard and Jaquelin Roy opted for extra conditioning work during that window, running sideline-to-sideline multiple times.

View photos of Vikings players during minicamp practice at the TCO Performance Center.

3. Kickoff returns

The Vikings opened the session by having their special teams go through kickoff returns, preparing for the new NFL rules that were implemented on a one-year basis.

It seems we're only seeing the first steps of how teams will approach the new kickoff returns, and it will be something to keep an eye on in training camp and particularly preseason games.