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3 Observations: Vikings & Titans Defenses Prevail with Wind at Backs 

EAGAN, Minn. — All the Vikings wore purple jerseys, and all the Titans wore white jerseys.

The outcomes resided somewhere in between Wednesday as the teams held their first of two joint practices at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

At the end of the session, the first- and second-team defenses for both squads prevailed in 2-minute drills by protecting 24-21 leads with 1:15 remaining in the game.

With a stiff breeze at the back of the defenses, Tennessee's first-team defense forced a quick turnover when Roger McCreary picked off Kirk Cousins on a sideline pass intended for K.J. Osborn.

The Titans also forced a turnover against Minnesota's second-team offense. Nick Mullens' pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Sam Okuayinonu and caught by edge rusher Rashad Weaver, as noted by's Senior Writer/Editor Jim Wyatt.

The Vikings first-team defense allowed some yardage but kept the Titans from getting a field goal when a kick into the stiff wind fell well short.

The second-team defense was stingier and ended the drill with a sack of Malik Willis.

Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said he thought about flipping the direction for the offenses but opted to keep the drill as scripted.

Overall, the day included good 11-on-11 work on first, second and third downs in "move-the-ball" periods, 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 passing drills and special teams work that featured two of the game's best two punters.

Action resumes Thursday when the Vikings are scheduled to host the Titans in another joint practice ahead of Saturday's preseason game between the squads. Click here for tickets for Thursday's session.

Not participating: Jordan Addison, Kene Nwangwu, Brian Asamoah II, Jaquelin Roy, Garett Maag and Jalen Nailor did not participate. T.J. Hockenson was limited as he continues working through an equilibrium issue caused by an inner ear infection.

Returned to practice: Lucky Jackson and Jonathan Bullard were back in action.

Here are three observations from Wednesday's session presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:

1. Vikings pressure on third downs

When there's intense competition happening on both practice fields and no quick way to get between good viewpoints, it can be a bit of picking and choosing.

I set up beside the field that featured the Vikings defense going against the Titans offense for much of the day while Lindsey Young and Ellis Williams kept their attention on the turf featuring the Vikings offense and Titans defense.

I wanted to keep tabs on what Minnesota's new defensive system under Brian Flores looked like and how it fared on third downs.

The Vikings implemented multiple pressure looks on third downs and were able to collapse the pocket on several plays, particularly against Tennessee's second-team offense, which was led by Willis or rookie Will Levis at QB.

Veteran starter Ryan Tannehill did connect on a deep pass to Treylon Burks to beat one blitz with a throw down the middle. Burks got past single coverage by cornerback Akayleb Evans and secured the catch but had to be helped off the field at the end of the play.

Other times, the Vikings forced incompletions or converged on likely sacks.

2. Powell continues strong camp when elevated

The Vikings signed Brandon Powell this offseason before using their first-round pick to select Addison.

O'Connell said the Vikings placed Addison in the concussion protocol out of ultra caution because he had some symptoms after going to the ground while making a catch in a recent 2-minute drill.

Minnesota turned to Powell, who gained familiarity with O'Connell's offense as a Ram, and he continued a strong camp.

Young said Powell showed off an impressive vertical in a 1-on-1 matchup. He also made plays while running with the first-team offense in 7-on-7 when Minnesota used three receivers.

Williams noted that Trishton Jackson also turned in a couple of nice plays in 1-on-1s and made a reception on a vertical route vs. Cover 2. Jackson, another former Ram, had been having a solid offseason before suffering a knee injury that sidelined him for a bit but not as long as first feared.

View photos of players during 2023 Vikings Training Camp joint practice with the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 16 at the TCO Performance Center.

3. Wild wind and a guest ref

Kickers for both teams would probably be fine with not having another day as windy on Thursday, but Vikings punter Ryan Wright would be just fine with a repeat.

Wright boomed the ball repeatedly.

"He had a great day. I was down there trying to chirp at him," O'Connell said. "We did let him kick downwind today. … And he just kept on hitting them, and hitting them, and hitting them, getting the guys fired up. You know you had a good day as a punter when the bleachers are chanting your name, so I was proud of Ryan today."

Vikings kicker Greg Joseph, a former Titan, was good on an extra point and field goals of 43, 48, 42 and 55 yards. He missed on attempts from 45 and 46. Undrafted rookie Jack Podlesny was good on an extra point and field goals from 46 and 50.

Veteran offensive lineman Chris Reed, who is currently on the non-football illness list, stepped in under the uprights to help another ref signal the accuracy of kicks.