SETTING THE SCENE
Many Vikings players appeared eager to get training camp started as they took the field for the summer’s first full-squad session. Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes even did a little shimmy in the end zone as he trotted out to the practice fields around 2:45 p.m. The weather wasn’t too shabby, with a spattering of clouds giving sporadic relief.
THE ONES TO BEAT?
It is noteworthy that during the first real practice defensive tackle Tom Johnson, outside linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and nickelback Mackensie Alexander got the first cracks at lining up on the first-team defense. Alexander had an uneven but eventful day, making a nice interception but getting roasted on a double move by wideout Michael Floyd.
The Vikings did not have much success running to the outside last season, in part due to them having to reply on backups at offensive tackle. This summer, it will clearly be a point of emphasis. In the first period after the team stretch, the Vikings started off by working on outside zone running plays, under the watchful eye of coach Mike Zimmer.
Second-year wide receiver Cayleb Jones, who joined the practice squad late in 2016, has gotten off to a strong start in camp, including the first two practices without veterans. The 6-foot-3 pass-catcher made an impressive leaping grab late in practice, bringing in a bomb from quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Might the longshot snag a roster spot, too?
“Nice call, Pat! Nice call, Pat!” -- offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who presumably liked the protections scheme set by rookie center Pat Elflein during a blitzing period.
Left tackle Riley Reiff left practice with what Zimmer called a minor “twinge.” Later, running back Jerick McKinnon and wide receiver Adam Thielen got banged up, too, but Thielen was spotted putting in extra work after practice, so he is probably fine. Running back Latavius Murray, who had ankle surgery in March, remains on the PUP list.
-- Matt Vensel