EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings held a 90-minute practice in full pads at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center on Thursday afternoon.
After the session, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Vikings Co-Defensive Andre Patterson said while practice went on as scheduled, there was a two-plus-hour team meeting in the morning that involved Vikings players, coaches and staff.
The discussion was on social justice and creating change in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by police Sunday.
"I'm proud of the way that our guys went out today and worked," Zimmer said. "We had a two-hour meeting where guys expressed their opinions and their thoughts.
"I think that was probably more important than sending people home today," Zimmer added. "I'm proud of the team."
Added Patterson: "I thought the meeting today that was run by our players was outstanding. They spent over two hours communicating with one another and expressing feelings and coming up with ideas of how they can try to help make things better."
Defensive end Danielle Hunter did not practice. Neither did linebacker Ben Gedeon, who is currently on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List.
The Vikings are scheduled to hold Friday's practice from U.S. Bank Stadium.
Here are three observations from Thursday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:
1. Young DBs step up
The Vikings young cornerbacks have stepped up throughout camp, and a pair of them did so again Thursday. Minnesota ended practice with a team drill in the red zone, with the ball at the 20-yard line.
Mike Hughes was in coverage on Kyle Rudolph and reached to up knock away Kirk Cousins' pass for the tight end on first down.
Two plays later, with the ball at the 21-yard line on third down, Holton Hill forced an incompletion while covering Bisi Johnson in the end zone. Johnson couldn't corral the pass after Hill got a hand on it, and the ball tumbled to the ground.
Hill also teamed with Anthony Harris in solid coverage on a throw intended for Adam Thielen earlier in practice.
Hughes and Hill have all nine combined NFL starts by Vikings cornerbacks currently on the 80-man roster.
2. Battles in the trenches
The Vikings were in full pads Thursday, and the best battles occurred at the line of scrimmage in 1-on-1 drills between offensive and defensive linemen.
Center Garrett Bradbury was sturdy, as he won both of his reps against Shamar Stephen. (The defensive tackle did rally for a likely sack on Cousins in the ensuing team drill).
Right guard Pat Elflein also fared well, winning both of his reps against Hercules Mata'afa. Rashod Hill stood out with two wins against rookie D.J. Wonnum.
Defensively, Armon Watts got the best of Aviante Collins on both occasions.
The battles between Riley Reiff and Ifeadi Odenigbo, Dakota Dozier and Jaleel Johnson and Jalyn Holmes and Brian O'Neill were even, splitting reps between each matchup.
Johnson later stood out in a team drill when he was credited with a tackle for loss on Dalvin Cook.
3. Punt returners emerge
At the beginning of Verizon Vikings Training Camp, Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf had more than a half-dozen players working at punt returner.
That group was pared to four in Thursday's practice, with Ameer Abdullah, Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson and rookie K.J. Osborn getting reps.
Maalouf threw a wrench at his players by having them turn their backs to the ball, allowing them to track it only after it was already in the air.
Minnesota then worked on punt coverage in team drills, with Beebe and Johnson back returning punts. Abdullah and Osborn worked as gunners during the drills along with Alexander Hollins, Jeff Gladney, Tajaé Sharpe, Jeff Gladney, Tony Brooks-James and Dan Chisena.