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3 Observations: Cousins Thrives in Red Zone with 4 Passing TDs

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings got back to work Wednesday, practicing for approximately two hours in full pads at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was likely pleased with his offense (more on that below), especially after players were off on Tuesday.

Of the 86 players who do not have a physically unable to perform (PUP) or non-football injury (NFI) designation, only defensive tackle Curtis Cothran did not practice, although defensive end Stephen Weatherly left the session early.

The Vikings will practice again Thursday and Friday afternoon before the annual night practice on Saturday evening.

Here are three observations from Wednesday's session:

1. Passing scores galore

Kirk Cousins was red hot in the red zone.

The Vikings quarterback threw four touchdowns in the red zone throughout practice, with all of them coming against the first-team defense.

The first score went to Adam Thielen from 20 yards out as the wide receiver wiggled away from Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith in the left corner of the end zone.

Tight end Tyler Conklin then made perhaps the catch of the day on a 13-yard touchdown as he leapt up and snagged the ball at the high point with Ben Gedeon nearby.

Kyle Rudolph was up next as he toe-tapped his way to a 9-yard score with Anthony Harris in tight coverage.

Rudolph caught the fourth and final score, which came in a late-half situation, as Minnesota's offense trailed by 10-0 with 62 seconds left and the ball at the opponent's 33-yard line.

Cousins wasted no time moving the ball, finding Chad Beebe for a 19-yard gain before Rudolph hauled in a 14-yard score on a corner route with Smith defending.

2. On the move

All 16 of the Vikings offensive linemen were fleet of foot and flying around during a drill Wednesday.

The goal was to focus on blocking out in space, as each lineman burst from their stance and moved into the open field before lunging to block a rolling donut-shaped pad.

Minnesota has placed a priority on finding athletic and versatile linemen who can move all over the field.

Centers and guards later worked on passing off stunts on the interior, while tackles teamed up for combo blocks with tight ends.

3. Specializing in special teams

As usual, the Vikings spent a strong portion of practice on the third phase, with Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf instructing players all over the turf.

Perhaps the most notable moment came when the Vikings used back-to-back plays that simulated the punter running around to milk the clock.

Matt Wile was in for the first attempt, but the Vikings then switched it up by putting Smith, the All-Pro safety, back there to eat up the presumed final seconds of a half.

At one point, the Vikings had 11 players back for punt return drills, a group that included Beebe, Ameer Abdullah, Jordan Taylor, Holton Hill, Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Bisi Johnson, De'Angelo Henderson, Craig James, Dillon Mitchell and Davion Davis.

When full-team periods started for special teams, it was Beebe (four reps), Taylor (three reps) and Abdullah and Johnson (one rep apiece) who were back there.

Kicker Dan Bailey also got some work as he made five of six kicks during team drills on the day. He was good from 33, 39 and 44 yards with Kevin McDermott snapping. Austin Cutting was in for the final three attempts as Bailey hit from 48 and 53 yards, but pulled his 41-yard try to the right.