A daily dispatch from Eagan
Lineman is first casualty of camp
Another sunny, 80-some degree beatdown, a bigger but less-than-capacity crowd and the first practice injury of camp all took place Saturday at TCO Performance Center. Midway through the afternoon practice, defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes walked off the field with what didn’t appear to be a serious injury. He was working with the first-team defense because Shamar Stephen is on the non-football injury list. Holmes’ injury ushered second-year player Hercules Mata’afa into the starting defense.
Meanwhile, cornerback Holton Hill, with his eight-game NFL suspension, stayed in coach Mike Zimmer’s doghouse during all 11-on-11 action.
No, the Vikings didn’t sign a 63-year-old long-snapper. That was Zimmer down on one knee lobbing snaps before practice to Adam Thielen and Chad Beebe, two receivers getting in some work as holders. Asked after practice if one or the other could be used as a holder, Zimmer said, “Maybe. We’re looking at them. Like I can tell them, the more you can do. So, we’ll see.”
Asked if kicker Dan Bailey’s 4-for-7 field-goal performance on Friday was the result of holding issues, Zimmer said, “Maybe. I’m not going to talk about those things in the media.”
Defense ahead. Duh!
It happens every summer, especially in these parts of late. The defense is ahead of the offense. Pressured consistently Saturday, quarterback Kirk Cousins struggled to find open receivers. His only completions were short routes and checkdowns. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes and linebacker Eric Kendricks converged nicely to break up a pass to Thielen. Rhodes broke up another pass to Thielen. The whistle blew on another play as Cousins was scrambling under heavy pressure from the defensive ends.
Air it out, Jake!
Jake Browning’s big opportunity for glory and a loud cheer from the crowd fell way short. Literally. The undrafted rookie quarterback was working with the third unit when he made a nice move in the pocket and stepped into a deep throw to rookie receiver Olabisi Johnson, who had gotten behind the defense. Johnson slowed down for the underthrown ball, but it ended up clanking off the helmet of safety Isaiah Wharton as the crowd groaned.
“I’m a little bit more sore and tired now that you say that. No, honestly, I feel younger. So, it’s all good.” – Soon-to-be-29-year-old Thielen, when confronted with the news that he’s the oldest receiver on the team.
Other than Holmes’ early exit, cornerback Mike Hughes (knee), receiver Brandon Zylstra (hamstring) and tight end David Morgan (undisclosed) remained on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Stephen (undisclosed) and defensive end Tashawn Bower (Achilles’) remained on the non-football injury list. Receiver Jeff Badet (undisclosed) missed practice for the second straight day. And nose tackle Linval Joseph, who underwent surgery this offseason, again was held out of 11-on-11 drills.