Quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense struggled to move the ball against the NFL’s reigning No. 1 defense during Saturday night’s practice under the lights at TCO Stadium in Eagan.
“It’s a work in progress,” Cousins said. “It really always will be. I was really pleased with one of the final periods — move the ball we call it, where we’re just playing unscripted football and reacting to the situation.”
After failing to cross the goal line during a red-zone period, Cousins scrambled for a big gain to close out the starters’ 11-on-11 sessions. He was thrown another curveball Saturday when Nick Easton, filling in at center for starter Pat Elflein, was held out because of to an undisclosed injury. So third-string center Cornelius Edison stepped into the lineup.
The Vikings were also without running back Dalvin Cook, who ran around without shoulder pads, about 10 months removed from ACL surgery on his left knee.
“It’s not ideal,” Cousins said. “Pat will be back, but it’s good practice for when inevitably something happens during the season and we have to shuffle people around. I guess it’s getting us prepared for that. But it isn’t easy having a new center every other snap.”
The offense’s top highlights came from the second team and quarterback Trevor Siemian, who scored a touchdown during his red-zone session on a play-action bootleg. Receiver Brandon Zylstra made consecutive sideline grabs that hyped up the crowd, including a one-handed, tiptoe snag against cornerback Holton Hill.
A ‘different’ offense
John DeFilippo’s offense has made an impression on seventh-year receiver Kendall Wright, who figures he’s learning about his “fifth or six” different system on his third NFL team. New facets for Wright include run-pass option plays that helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl in February.
“Flip’s offense is different than some of the offenses I’ve been around,” Wright said. “A lot of offenses are same plays with different languages, but I’ve never had the plays — the run-pass options and all the things he’s doing.”
Wright, 28, will compete for playing time this preseason with Laquon Treadwell, Stacy Coley, Brandon Zylstra and others vying for roster spots.
“I just have to go out here, make plays and show what I can do,” Wright said.
Future fatherhood puts football in perspective
Running back Latavius Murray and his fiancée, Shauntay Skanes, are expecting their first child, a son, on Aug. 31. The fact that fatherhood is right around the corner, Murray said, has already given him a new perspective on football.
“I love this game, but what’s more important than having a son of your own?” Murray said. “I think for me, it almost helps take a little pressure off, not getting too worried and just coming out here and having fun, because there’s bigger things in life.”
O-line on the mend
Only two members of the Vikings’ projected starting offensive line — left tackle Riley Reiff and right tackle Rashod Hill — were able to practice Saturday night. Elflein, who remains on PUP with ankle/shoulder issues, right guard Mike Remmers (ankle) and left guard Easton were held out.
Cook, fellow running back Roc Thomas and receivers Tavarres King and Chad Beebe were sidelined because of undisclosed ailments.