EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings have earned a day off, but it didn’t come without a tiring practice Tuesday afternoon.
Minnesota practiced for almost two hours, but spent a considerable amount of time in game-like situations with back-to-back, 15-minute sessions that included all three units on offense and defense. The session was not in full pads, just shells and shorts.
“Today, I was trying to get them tuckered out,” Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’ve got an off day tomorrow, and I was trying to get them long drives if I could, where they had to go 12, 14 plays, get tired.
“I wanted them to get gassed today, I thought, because they needed it,” Zimmer added. “Suck it up when they’re tired.”
The Vikings first-team offense went up against the first two defenses, while the first-team defense saw action against the top two offensive units. The third-team offense and defense squared off against each other.
Of the 87 players who do not have a Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) or Non-Football Injury (NFI) designation, tackles Brian O’Neill and Aviante Collins, running back De’Angelo Henderson, cornerback Kris Boyd and defensive end Ade Aruna did not practice. Linval Joseph did not participate in team periods.
Players are off Wednesday but will return to work Thursday. The Vikings host Seattle in a preseason game at 7 p.m. (CT) Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
View images from the Vikings training camp practice on August 13 at TCO Performance Center.
Here are three observations from Tuesday’s session:
1. Not a single miss
There have been plenty of storylines regarding special teams the past few days at training camp, but Dan Bailey made quite the statement — and showed off his leg strength — on Tuesday.
The kicker made all seven of his attempts during team periods, making it the first perfect day he’s had so far in camp.
The kicking operation of long snapper Austin Cutting, holder Chad Beebe and Bailey were good on four extra points and three field goals.
Bailey’s first field goal was true from 52 yards in the first 15-minute session of the team period.
Bailey’s next field goal attempt came under pressure, as the offense trailed 27-24 with just for ticks remaining in the fourth quarter as Bailey lined up for a 54-yard try.
The kick was good, even after Zimmer called a timeout to try and ice Bailey. The lengthy field goal sent the hypothetical game to overtime.
Bailey later made a 40-yard try to cap off his perfect day.
Kaare Vedvik did not attempt any field goals, but he did record two punts, with one going 45 yards and the other traveling 59 yards.
Vedvik also showed off his own leg strength, as he kicked off five times, with four of them going four or five yards deep in the end zone. His fifth and final kickoff sailed to the end line at the back of the end zone.
2. Plenty of picks
The Vikings defense was an opportunistic bunch Tuesday, especially safety Marcus Epps and Eric Wilson.
Epps recorded two interceptions on the day, including a roughly 30-yard pick-six off quarterback Jake Browning in a team session. The safety came out of nowhere across the middle and raced to the end zone.
Epps later picked off Browning on the final play of practice, as he went to the ground to secure a victory.
Wilson also had a pick-six, as he corralled a pass by Sean Mannion that was bobbled in the flat and he took it roughly 25 yards to the end zone.
Jayron Kearse had an interception on the first drive of the first 15-minute, game-like situation as he stepped in front of a Kirk Cousins pass intended for Adam Thielen.
3. Always aware
Shamar Stephen kept Dalvin Cook on his toes on Tuesday.
The first play of team drills was a Cook run to the left that went for a handful of yards. But the running back kept jogging to try and extend the play, unaware that the run-stuffing defensive tackle was coming from his right.
Stephen snuck up to Cook with nobody else around and punched the ball away from Cook, getting a good laugh out of the sequence.
Cook learned his lesson, as he kept the ball high and tight the rest of practice, even as Stephen tried unsuccessfully to knock the ball free on multiple occasions.