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3 Observations: Safety Tandem Comes Up Strong for Defense

EAGAN, Minn. — Harrison Smith put the first-team offense in an adverse situation, and Camryn Bynum sent the group to the sidelines with an interception.

The safety duo that has taken the most reps with the Vikings first-team defense showed up strong Wednesday near the end of practice.

The offense started the drill at its 25-yard line with 1:30 remaining and down 24-20.

Minnesota opened with a screen to Dalvin Cook, but Smith snuffed it out and was there to meet the running back who turned 27 Wednesday. The would-be tackle by Smith kept the clock running.

The offense followed with a pass from Kirk Cousins to Justin Jefferson, but Smith was there to stop the gain in bounds and force a third-and-2. After an incompletion, Minnesota's offense moved the chains with a run by Alexander Mattison.

Cousins tried to connect with Jefferson — as he had multiple times during the practice — on the following first-and-10 play. The throw into double coverage was secured by Bynum.

Sean Mannion stepped in at quarterback with the second-team offense under the same conditions. He converted a third-and-7 with a pass to Bisi Johnson along the sideline.

There was a bit of confusion on where the ball was spotted and if Johnson had been able to stop the clock. After a brief chat between Kevin O'Connell and officials, the drive continued with a new set of downs. Later, on third-and-4, Mannion ripped a throw to Zach Davidson for a gain of 15 that he followed with a pass to Trishton Jackson for a gain of 17 to the defense's 13-yard line.

The offense spiked the ball to stop the clock with 0:03 remaining, allowing time for one shot at the end zone. Mannion fired to Albert Wilson in the end zone, but the ball bounced off Wilson's hands.

View photos of players during 2022 Vikings Training Camp practice on August 10 at the TCO Performance Center.

Vikings Table, the charity food truck created by the Minnesota Vikings Foundation, helped Cook and teammates celebrate by delivering popsicles to players after the game.

Cornerback Akayleb Evans, defensive lineman Jullian Taylor and receiver Dan Chisena did not participate.

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

Here are three observations from Wednesday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:

1. Respect

Veteran outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith went head to head against second-year left tackle during a 1-on-1 pass rush drill.

The first seemed to be a draw without a clear-cut winner, although most would say that a tie usually goes to an offensive lineman.

The second attempt by Smith was impressively stymied by Darrisaw.

After the sequence, Smith showed his respect for the work by reaching out his big right paw and giving Darrisaw five. Game recognizing game.

2. SKOL Chant, Griddy & first-team reps

Vikings rookie Ed Ingram headed over to the sideline facing fans before position groups began their individual work.

The guard led the group in the SKOL Chant, which he also did with fellow rookie offensive linemen Vederian Lowe and Josh Sokol on Sunday.

This time, however, Ingram kept the crowd going by breaking out his version of The Griddy in homage to Jefferson, his former teammate at LSU.

Later during team drills, Ingram took reps with the first-team offense at right guard. He had previously filled in for veteran Jesse Davis on a pair of vet days when the team was not in full pads, but this was the most work with the first team Ingram had done in full pads.

3. Options on third downs

Cousins connected with Adam Thielen twice and Jefferson once while the team was working on third-and-long situations.

He also made a nice pass along the sideline to K.J. Osborn.

The Vikings want to avoid third-and-longs this season, but having multiple options to face that situation will be helpful.