MANKATO, Minn. — The Vikings opted to open Tuesday night's practice with a quick rookie-on-rookie matchup at midfield.
Defensive lineman Danielle Hunter and offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings squared off for three snaps off the ball. Hunter took two of three, winning with a move to the outside once and to the inside a second time.
Teammates encircled the 2015 third- and fourth-round picks and caught competitive energy they carried into practice. It resurfaced in drills and then in critical situations like goal line and hurry-up offense.
A pair of other picks wound up stealing the show as cool air settled over a spirited crowd at Blakeslee Stadium by night's end when coaches had the offense start possessions at its own 30-yard line.
Audie Cole opportunistically intercepted the first pass of the possession thrown by Teddy Bridgewater and sprinted toward the end zone.
"Linebackers don't get to touch the football too often," Cole said. "A couple of days ago we were sitting there talking and no one could think of the last time we had touched the football, so it's an exciting thing to get your hands on it."
Bridgewater bounced back with a better start to the next possession, but the drive stalled inside the red zone as time ticked down. With 11 seconds remaining, Bridgewater targeted Mike Wallace on his left side in the end zone, but Xavier Rhodes high-pointed the ball.
Safety Harrison Smith, who led the Vikings with five interceptions last season said it was nice to see the pair of picks.
"Audie has probably got some of the best hands on the team," Smith said. "Whenever he gets a chance, he makes a play on the ball. X had one as well, which is awesome. We always make fun of X for getting all the (pass breakups instead of interceptions) so the more picks he's getting, the better."
View images from the Tuesday, August 4 night practice at Verizon Vikings Training Camp.
It's also worth noting that Bridgewater threaded a beauty to Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown during goal-line work and also had a completion of roughly 40 yards to Jarius Wright.
Wallace and Bridgewater capped their night with extra running.
"Shape. We've got to get in shape," Wallace said. "We have a game coming up in a couple of days, and that's the fastest way to get in shape, get extra sprints and get your endurance up. You've got to be ready to go."
The Vikings are scheduled to open the preseason against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday Night Football.
Vikings players are off Wednesday and will return to practice Thursday.
Asked what he planned to do on his off day, Wallace said, "sleep."
"I'm going to sleep as long as I can, but in Minnesota the sun comes out too early," Wallace said. "It's like 5 o'clock and the sun is already out, so I'll take it as long as I can, probably about 9 o'clock, and then go to the (Original) Pancake House and then chill for the rest of the day until it's time to come back."