Defenses ruled the day as the Vikings and Jaguars looked like the NFL’s reigning No. 1 and No. 2 groups during the first of two joint practices Wednesday in Eagan. As safety Harrison Smith talked with reporters afterward, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette yelled at him, “You dropped that pick, Smith!”
“I dropped two,” Smith retorted.
It was that kind of day for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, the former third overall pick entering his fifth season of an uneven NFL career. Bortles had a few downfield completions, but even more passes slipped through the hands of Vikings defenders. Cornerback Terence Newman came away with the lone pick while Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and linebacker Anthony Barr dropped possible interceptions.
Smith, the first-team All-Pro safety, dropped for 20 pushups during the two-hour practice by direction of defensive backs coach Jerry Gray.
“You don’t outgrow having to do pushups for dropping balls,” Smith said. “Whether it’s individual or team period, you have to get 10 in.”
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins fared better than Bortles, but moving the ball was a struggle at times. The highlight came as Cousins rifled a touchdown pass to receiver Kendall Wright in between two Jaguars defensive backs during red-zone drills. Jaguars defenders could be heard yelling out “RPO!” when the Vikings turned to run-pass options in the playbook.
“We seen a couple,” Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. “We didn’t get got on them, though.”
Defensive end Everson Griffen has missed three practices this week because he suffered a leg laceration on the end of a table sometime after Saturday’s preseason opener in Denver, two sources told the Star Tribune. The cut then became infected. However, Griffen isn’t expected to be out much longer and could still play Saturday against the Jaguars, one source said.
The offbeat injury is the latest on Griffen’s recent list of ailments. He tore the plantar fascia in his left foot last October against Cleveland, and he missed much of the Vikings’ offseason program while resting a minor knee injury.
Ramsey lauds Cousins
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey isn’t in Minnesota while serving a team-issued suspension, but he still had high praise for Cousins in a recent GQ Magazine article. Ramsey’s remarks about Cousins contrasted with negative things he said about many other NFL quarterbacks, from Andrew Luck to Joe Flacco.
“I think he’s good. I think he’s a winner,” Ramsey told GQ about Cousins. “He’s a hell of a competitor. Coming off the play action, he’s the best quarterback in the league.”
Remmers’ comfort zone
Right guard Mike Remmers is still on the mend from a left ankle injury as the veteran eases back into practices. Remmers suited up for a third consecutive practice but continued to be held out of 11-on-11 drills. Guard Danny Isidora has taken Remmers’ reps with the starters. Still, Remmers said he feels more comfortable at guard than when he was thrown into the position during last year’s playoffs.
“Having everything be real fluid and natural feeling,” Remmers said. “Just some things having experience doing it, you’ll be able to see things quicker, react quicker.”
Ex-Gopher now Jaguar
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Myrick has returned to Minnesota this week, where he was a defensive and special teams ace for the Gophers from 2013-16. Myrick didn’t play much during his rookie season last fall, but the former seventh-round pick is expected to play a lot against the Vikings on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“He’s doing a heck of a job,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “He played quite a bit in the first preseason game, really wasn’t tested. I told him, I can promise you you’ll be tested when you’re up here.”