3 Observations: Defense Steals Show with 3 INTs at Tuesday’s Practice

EAGAN, Minn. — Another day of work is complete for the Vikings.

Minnesota practiced for roughly two hours in full pads on Tuesday afternoon at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

The Vikings have their preseason opener Friday night in New Orleans against the Saints. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. (CT).

Of the 87 players who do not have a Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) or Non-Football Injury (NFI) designation, tackle Brian O’Neill, tackle Aviante Collins, guard Tyler Catalina and defensive end Ade Aruna did not practice. Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen did not participate in team periods.

Here are three observations from Tuesday’s session:

1. Active hands

The defense was in fine form Tuesday, as three different players recorded an interception on the day.

Cornerback Trae Waynes intercepted Kirk Cousins on a tipped pass, and his return would have at least put the ball in the red zone, and might have gone all the way.

Linebacker Reshard Cliett had a takeaway inside the 10-yard line, as he corralled a Sean Mannion pass that defensive end Stephen Weatherly batted.

And cornerback Craig James showed great speed and ball skills when he picked off Jake Browning. James was step-for-step with Jeff Badet when he dove and hauled in the pass almost 50 yards downfield.

Minnesota’s first-team defense also came up big in a situational 2-minute drill when they stymied the offense at their own 40-yard line with a turnover on downs.

2. Moving parts

With O’Neill, Collins and Catalina not practicing, the Vikings were down to 13 offensive linemen Tuesday.

Rashod Hill and Storm Norton both took first-team reps at right tackle in place of O’Neill, while the rest of the starters remained the same. The unit, from left tackle to right guard, consisted of Riley Reiff, Pat Elflein, Garrett Bradbury and Josh Kline.

The second unit also was shuffled. Norton was in at left tackle while Dakota Dozier was the left guard and Brett Jones was at center. Guard Danny Isidora and rookie tackle Olisaemeka Udoh manned the right side.

Dozier and Udoh then pulled double duty as they lined up at left and right tackle, respectively, for the third unit. Left guard John Keenoy, center Cornelius Edison and right guard Dru Samia rounded out the group.

The Vikings invited local first responders to training camp for a day.

3. Setting the stage

The Superdome in New Orleans is known as one of the loudest environments across the league.

And although Friday night’s contest is an exhibition game, playing there will be good practice for a rowdy crowd.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer helped his team mimic that atmosphere Tuesday by blasting crowd noise into a team period for multiple quarterbacks.

The signal callers adjusted on the fly by using hand motions and a silent count to receive the snap.

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