Day@Camp: A Daily Dispatch from Eagan
Setting the scene
Thursday’s practice drew out a few more fans, with about 200 observers populating the bleachers on the south and western sides of the Vikings’ new practice fields in Eagan. Timberwolves top draft pick Josh Okogie was also in attendance, stopping by to watch practice and chat with a couple players. Wind gusts picked up as the unsure weather continued. Sunshine was sparse and mostly replaced with dark clouds and light rain. The Vikings appeared to end an 11-on-11 session early toward the end of practice as the rain started to increase. It was the last rookie practice before veterans report for the first full-team practice Saturday.
Cousins on target
Quarterback Kirk Cousins was on target during passing drills, rifling completions to tight end Tyler Conklin before lofting a pass over cornerback Mike Hughes to receiver Chad Beebe. Cousins didn’t do much during team drills, ceding plenty of reps to backup quarterbacks Trevor Siemian, Kyle Sloter and Peter Pujals. He fired one of the only deep throws of the day down the middle to receiver Jeff Badet, whose outstretched fingertips just missed the pass.
Hopeful for returns
Rookie linebacker Devante Downs is easing back into practice, but the former Cal standout is hopeful the NFL won’t eliminate kick returns. Vikings coaches anticipate kickoffs will be more like punts, since new rules dictate at least eight players need to be within 25 yards of the kick. Downs, who will compete this preseason for special teams duties, said his favorite is kickoff team. “You can blow stuff up,” Downs said. “It will be fun when they do get a return.”
Jones making plays
Receiver Cayleb Jones, who spent last season on the Vikings practice squad, was the standout during passing drills. The 6-3 Jones snagged almost everything thrown his way, including an overhead throw from quarterback Kyle Sloter down the sideline. On the flip side, undrafted rookie tight end Tyler Hoppes had a couple drops that left him frustrated.
“I told you he was a speed guy!” – Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, shouting to rookie cornerback Holton Hill after Hill nearly gave up a deep reception from Cousins to Badet.
• Downs (knee) and WR Stacy Coley (heel) appeared to be limited during Thursday’s practice as they worked their ways back from injury.
• RB Dalvin Cook (knee) continued to be limited. Cook ran through running back drills, but watched as other backs took reps in team sessions.
• C Pat Elflein (ankle/ shoulder) continued to rehab while on the physically-unable-to-perform list.