The only absence was notable from the Vikings’ second Organized Team Activity session on Wednesday, because the receiver opposite star Adam Thielen kept changing for Kirk Cousins.
Stefon Diggs skipped the first two OTAs after participating sparingly in the Vikings offseason program that started April 15. He’s expected to return Thursday, according to Cousins.
“That will be fun to have him back,” Cousins said.
But on Wednesday, up came Jordan Taylor, the 6-foot-5 target whom Gary Kubiak liked in Denver. Then receiver Brandon Zylstra got his chances to run with the first-team offense. Chad Beebe was also in the mix. It was Jeff Badet, the second-year Oklahoma speedster, who stood out with a long deep grab from Cousins near the end of practice.
Diggs’ absence only accentuated a competition that will persist this summer for jobs No. 3 on down in the receiver room. Below are more observations from Wednesday’s practice, which during this three-week OTA period will be limited to flag-football conditions (shorts, no shoulder pads).
–The starting offensive line was set, for Wednesday at least.Left tackle Riley Reiff, left guard Pat Elflein, center Garrett Bradbury, right guard Josh Kline and right tackle Rashod Hill took every rep in front of Kirk Cousins. Hill filled in for Brian O’Neill, who was present but sidelined due to an undisclosed reason.
–The second O-line featuredleft tackle Aviante Collins, left guard Dakota Dozier, center Brett Jones, right guard Danny Isidora and right tackle Storm Norton in front of quarterback Sean Mannion. Rookies Dru Samia, a fourth-round pick, and Oli Udoh, a sixth-round pick, played right guard and right tackle for the third-team offense.
–Quarterback pecking order featured Sean Mannionas the No. 2 behind Cousins, followed by Kyle Sloter and undrafetd rookie Jake Browning. Competition appears real behind Cousins. The Vikings guaranteed more to sign Browning ($130,000) than Mannion ($90,000) this offseason, however it’s Mannion, the former Rams backup, assuming the backup reps so far.
–Jaleel Johnson was the first man up in team drills while Linval Joseph recovers from offseason surgery. Joseph still ran through defensive line drills, but the Vikings aren’t pushing the 30-year-old veteran in May. Johnson was the nose tackle alongside Shamar Stephen while Joseph watched 11-on-11 drills from the sideline.
–Holding was a clear focus for punter Matt Wile,who held field goal attempts for kicker Dan Bailey during Wednesday’s practice. He then stayed afterward to work on the process. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he was open to changing holders after Bailey missed a career-high seven field goals last season, but Wile still assumed the role Wednesday.
–Don’t forget about Hercules Mata’afa,the second-year undrafted Washington wrecking ball who is recovered from a torn ACL that cut his rookie year short in OTAs. The Vikings toyed with playing the undersized Mata’afa (listed 6-2, 254 pounds) at linebacker before his injury, but he’s back to playing defensive tackle where he was a menace in college.