3 Observations: Kearse Makes Splash Plays in Place of Smith

EAGAN, Minn. — The work week is almost complete.

The Vikings practiced for roughly two hours in shells and shorts Thursday at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in preparation for Saturday’s preseason game against Arizona.

Kickoff is at noon (CT) from U.S. Bank Stadium.

Of the 87 players who do not have a Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) or Non-Football Injury (NFI) designation, safety Harrison Smith tackle Aviante Collins, wide receiver Jeff Badet and defensive end Ade Aruna did not practice. Tackle Brian O’Neill did not participate in team periods.

Here are three observations from Thursday afternoon’s session:

1. Filling in nicely

Safety Jayron Kearse filled in for Smith at practice, lining up with the first-team defense next to fellow safety Anthony Harris.

The former Clemson standout made his presence known throughout practice, including near the line of scrimmage, as he likely would have recorded two sacks in game action.

Kearse later broke up a pass intended for tight end Kyle Rudolph in the end zone, and finished his big day as a gunner on punt coverage by downing a kick inside the 10-yard line.

Mackensie Alexander, Kearse’s teammate at Clemson, flashed on back-to-back plays at the end of practice.

First, Alexander limited a pass to running back Alexander Mattison for no gain. He then recognized a screen to wide receiver Bisi Johnson and charged to the line of scrimmage to keep the play at a short gain.

Harris also made a play to close out the team portion of practice by breaking up a Kirk Cousins pass intended for Johnson in the end zone.

2. Young WRs step up

Harris’ pass breakup came at the end of a 2-minute drill in which the first-team offense went against the first-team defense.

The defense came away victorious by keeping the offense out of the end zone to preserve a 16-10 lead, but there were plenty of positives for the offense.

With Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs watching from the sideline, coaches gave young wide receivers such as Chad Beebe, Johnson and Brandon Zylstra the chance to run with Cousins.

Beebe was a favorite target of the quarterback, catching four passes for 44 yards on a drive that started at the offense’s 30-yard line. Zylstra also had a pair of catches for 14 yards, with both receptions moving the chains.

3. The daily kicking update

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said earlier this week that he didn’t have a timeline to figure out the specialists situation involving Dan Bailey, Kaare Vedvik and Matt Wile.

Bailey made all six field goal tries on Wednesday, and Vedvik got the chance to for six attempts on Thursday.

Vedvik, acquired almost two weeks ago from Baltimore, made five of six kicks, with Wile holding all of them.

He was good from 33, 39 and 44 yards in the first three attempts, but started off the second trio of kicks with a miss from 45 yards.

But Vedvik rebounded by making his attempts from 50 and 55 yards to close out a solid day.

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NFL Kickoff | We Ready

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