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Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Vikings remind fans about switch to electronic tickets before Jaguars game

The Vikings' first home preseason game against the Jaguars on Saturday will also be the debut of their electronic ticketing system. They are one of six NFL teams who will exclusively accept electronic tickets in 2018, with the rest of the league expected to switch in 2019.

Vikings VP of strategic and corporate communications Jeff Anderson said fans should download the team's free mobile app, or store their mobile tickets on their device through their ticketing account with the team, and spend some time before the game familiarizing themselves with how to access the tickets. The team started accepting mobile tickets in 2014, and Anderson said 35 percent of tickets at Vikings home games were electronic last year.

The Vikings have been using electronic-only ticketing for its first training camp at its new practice facility in Eagan. The Vikings made the switch to electronic tickets to streamline the entry experience for fans and create stronger safeguards against counterfeit tickets. Anderson said approximately 50 percent of the team’s game tickets are transferred or sold on the secondary market; whereas paper tickets gave the Vikings no way to know who was actually using the ticket, fans must connect their mobile tickets to an email address, which allows the team to provide updates about weather changes at training camp or traffic issues on game day.

The league now offers verified tickets through NFL Ticket Exchange, StubHub and SeatGeek, so fans who purchase a ticket through a secondary market can be assured their tickets are legitimate. While Anderson said the Vikings are aware someone could try to produce counterfeit electronic tickets, he said the team hasn’t seen it happen, adding it would be much more difficult to produce counterfeit digital tickets than falsified paper tickets.

Rookie tackle O'Neill gets positive reviews, but still has 'a long way to go'

The Vikings came away impressed with rookie cornerback Mike Hughes’ debut in the preseason opener. Another rookie might not contribute as much this season, but is showing early signs of improvement at a critical position.

Tackle Brian O’Neill, the former Pittsburgh tight end currently in just his fourth year playing offensive line, also received good feedback from coaches, including head coach Mike Zimmer.

“O’Neill played pretty well,” Zimmer said. “Some of the things we were working on that he had been doing previously, he did not do, which was good. In the running game he was pretty good, getting to the second level blocking his guys. I thought he improved this week.”

It was one exhibition against Broncos backups, and specifically only 47 snaps, but enough for a popular film-grading site like Pro Football Focus to bestow upon him a ‘clean’ record on 23 pass-blocking snaps. The truth is he made mistakes, like most players.

For instance, O’Neill and running back Mack Brown got their wires crossed on a blitz pickup, leading to a free runner on Kyle Sloter during his nine-yard touchdown throw to Chad Beebe. There are even finer points Vikings coaches are trying to clean up with him ahead of exhibition No. 2 against the Jaguars on Saturday.

“There’s a lot to improve on,” O’Neill said. “There’s a lot of details I need to clean up just like there is at a lot of positions.

“Got a long way to go in both [run and pass blocking],” O’Neill added.

Ideally, the Vikings might want to let O’Neill take a redshirt rookie season, play some special teams and get stronger. He’s already added three pounds, weighing in recently at 300.4 pounds, O’Neill said, since the Vikings drafted him. Strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama is focused on building out O’Neill’s frame, which was listed as a 6-foot-6-inch, 290-pound tackle at the University of Pittsburgh.

O’Neill said he tries to intake about 6,000 calories per training camp day, which includes nearly three hours of outdoor practices and additional weight lifting sessions.

“That’s what I know during camp I need to be around to continue to maintain and gain, and continue to gain muscle mass,” O’Neill said. “We’re starting to do that in the weight room more, too.”

However, O’Neill will still remain busy in the starting lineup. Right tackle Rashod Hill rolled his ankle in practice Monday. Even though Hill returned after being evaluated by athletic trainers, Hill was unable to participate in Tuesday morning’s walkthrough, when O’Neill took first-team reps at right tackle and second-team reps at right guard.

The Vikings have also worked O’Neill as a backup left tackle in training camp, preparing him for the likely role of swing tackle this season.  

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