EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings hit the practice field early Thursday morning, as rookies, quarterbacks and select veterans held their third and final session together at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
The group of 37 total players practiced for roughly 90 minutes. They will soon be joined by Vikings veterans, who will report to the team facility Thursday.
The first full-team practice (and first open to fans) set for 2 p.m. Friday.
Here are three observations from Thursday session:
1. Teaching moments
Vikings coaches have talked repeatedly the past few days about slowing practice down and giving the young players in camp a chance to learn at a reduced pace.
A pair of offensive coaches put those words into action Thursday, as Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski and Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary Kubiak both offered teachable moments.
Stefanski’s lesson came with the wide receivers when he provided details on how to run a route during a pass-catching drill.
Kubiak, a former NFL quarterback, was demonstrative with the signal callers a few minutes earlier, as he dropped back in an imaginary pocket and explained how to hold and deliver the ball for that drill.
Practice speed will pick up Friday with the veterans, and the hope is that the extra lessons will pay off for Minnesota’s youngsters.
2. Looking at the linebackers
With only three dozen offensive and defensive players in camp so far, some positions were greatly limited.
That includes linebacker, where only three players — Reshard Cliett, Greer Martini and Cameron Smith — have been in camp since Tuesday.
Smith usually manned the middle while Cliett and Martini were at the outside spots, but the Vikings did move them around a bit.
And each had the chance to work with another player when the Vikings went to their nickel defense in practice. Smith and Martini were together at one point, followed by Smith and Cliett, while Martini and Cliett later took the field together.
Minnesota is slated to have nine linebackers at Friday’s practice. The above trio will be joined by Anthony Barr, Kentrell Brothers, Devante Downs, Ben Gedeon, Eric Kendricks and Eric Wilson.
View photos of the Vikings during training camp practice at TCO Performance Center.
3. Epps snags a pick
Rookie safety Marcus Epps had a hand in the play of the day Thursday morning, with a little help from cornerback Nate Meadors.
Meadors was in tight coverage on Dillon Mitchell down the right sideline when quarterback Jake Browning looked for the rookie wide receiver for a 25-yard gain.
But with Meadors in close proximity, Mitchell was only able to tip the ball up in the air, which was corralled by a charging Epps just before it hit the ground.
Epps then took off down the sideline for what would have been a lengthy return.