The Vikings’ new quarterback and new offensive coordinator stirred the offseason. As that offseason progressed on Tuesday, it was the NFL’s reigning No. 1 defense flexing its muscle (on Mike Zimmer’s 62nd birthday).
Plenty of passes were swatted out of the air during Organized Team Activity No. 8 (out of 10). Three of backup quarterback Trevor Siemian’s throws were batted during his second red-zone drill, by defensive end Stephen Weatherly and cornerbacks Marcus Sherels and Horace Richardson.
Defensive end Brian Robison swatted the first of two Kirk Cousins throws during the first-team offense’s red-zone session. Robison later batted away a play-action swing pass from Cousins.
“I’ve been in this league going on 12 years now,” Robison said. “I’ve kind of seen it all, I think.”
Receiver Laquon Treadwell dropped his first target during passing drills at the start of practice. But the third-year receiver rebounded with a grab on a whip route against cornerback Trae Waynes.
Treadwell has been taking snaps as the third receiver with the first-team offense. Veteran newcomer Kendall Wright has been working with the second and third teams.
“It’s always a little bit of a cat and mouse game with the offense and defense,” Zimmer said. “They run a couple plays that hurt the defense, then the defense will come back and run something that hurts them. For the most part, it’s really about trying to get guys better at doing their job and being on the same page.”
Here are more notes from Vikings OTAs:
–Defensive end Everson Griffen continues to be held out this spring. The Vikings’ sack leader has not practiced during three OTA sessions open to reporters. Griffen is dealing with a different injury than the plantar fasciitis that hampered him last season, according to Zimmer. “We thought he’d get back a little this week,” Zimmer said. “But it may be next week.” Safety Andrew Sendejo, receiver Jeff Badet, running back Mack Brown, defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes and linebacker Devante Downs were also held back.
–Mike Remmers remains at right guard. The Vikings offensive line didn’t change between the second and third week of OTAs. Remmers remained at right guard with Rashod Hill at right tackle. Center Pat Elflein (ankle/shoulder) continues to be held out, moving left guard Nick Easton to center. Tom Compton and Danny Isidora swapped reps at left guard with the first-team offense.
–Rookie kicker Daniel Carlson continues to impress. Carlson cleared the uprights from 50 yards on Tuesday, but the kick looked as if it would’ve been good from 60-plus. He rotated kicks with Kai Forbath in team drills. Forbath finished 3 of 4, missing from 50 yards away. Carlson went 5 of 5.
–Tight end Kyle Rudolph is easing into team drills. David Morgan and Blake Bell saw plenty of reps during 11-on-11 sessions on Tuesday, but Rudolph (ankle surgery) subbed in early during the first-team’s red-zone drill. Rudolph is coming off three consecutive seasons of at least 16 games played.
–Gophers coach P.J. Fleck was in attendance, taking in Vikings practice. Fleck knows Cousins through Michigan ties. Cousins talked to Gophers players before he signed with the Vikings and spent time with Fleck.
–Rookie Hercules Mata’afa has moved back to the defensive line. The Vikings tried the former Washington State star at linebacker for just a couple practices before moving him back. Mata’afa is working at defensive end and situational defensive tackle. “With the big dogs,” Mata’afa said Tuesday. “Feels like home. It’s way easier for me understanding the concepts. It’s what I’ve done all my life.”