The Vikings backfield was a constant rotation Monday during the first padded practice of training camp.
Dalvin Cook donned shoulder pads for the first time since his ACL surgery, which he deemed a “milestone” in his recovery. But Latavius Murray, Mack Brown, Roc Thomas and Mike Boone were also regulars as the five-man rotation took handoffs from quarterbacks Kirk Cousins down to Kyle Sloter.
“It kind of surprised me,” said Thomas, an undrafted rookie from Jacksonville State who took a couple of handoffs from Cousins. “But I’m going to take it and run with it. I’m not going to sit back and be like, ‘Oh, you sure, Coach?’ ”
The Vikings’ search for a No. 3 running back will continue into the preseason. What’s clear is they’re being cautious with the group’s leader, Cook, who mainly had play-action plays dialed up for him during team drills. In his first padded practice, Cook didn’t take many hits from the NFL’s reigning No. 1 defense.
“I tried to get it in,” Cook said after practice. “We did pass pro with the linebackers. We got good licks in there.”
What’s Cook’s next milestone?
“Get to Week 1,” Cook said. “Then let’s do it.”
Right tackle Rashod Hill was held out of practice Monday because of a stomach illness that he practiced through over the weekend. Hill needed “small” portions, IV bags and breaks to get through the first camp practices, rotating in and out with rookie Brian O’Neill, who took over for Hill on Monday.
Hill, a third-year tackle, already lost 12 pounds this offseason in an effort to be better conditioned this season. Now he’s trying to prevent losing too much weight while working through this illness.
“That’s the problem now is it’s hard to keep food down,” Hill said Monday morning. “Because I’m not tired. You just get fatigued because you don’t have any food or energy. Other than that, everything is good. Just keep pushing with this.”
The Vikings shuffled their scouting staff this offseason. Additions include pro scout Jeremy Gray, the son of Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. Jeremy most recently was a graduate assistant at UCLA.
The Vikings also hired Chisom Opara, who was ousted as Browns director of player personnel this spring, as a college scouting consultant. Former pro scout Jeff Robinson, who had been in the Vikings scouting department since 1996, has taken on a new role as manager of youth football development.
Noah Spielman, General Manager Rick Spielman’s nephew, was added to the staff as a scouting intern this spring.
Wilson bulks up
Second-year linebacker Eric Wilson looks like a different No. 50 running around on the practice field. That’s because Wilson, a Cincinnati product, put on nearly 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason after playing at 225 pounds as a rookie.
Wilson, who played 306 special teams snaps last year, is expected to play key roles again for Mike Priefer’s return and coverage groups.
“Yeah, I’m like 233 — trying to stay in between the light 230s,” Wilson said. “I think my frame holds it well, can maintain my speed. I feel like I’m growing in the playbook and just my confidence in the game.”