The Vikings kicking competition has suddenly ended.

Undrafted rookie kicker Jack Podlesny was waived Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after the 2022 SEC special teams player of the year nailed all three of his field-goal attempts in the first of two joint practices with the Tennessee Titans.

Podlesny laced in kicks from 35, 45 and 50 yards amid winds as high as 30 mph Wednesday, in preparation for his first in-game reps on Saturday.

Special teams coach Matt Daniels said Monday that both returning kicker Greg Joseph and Podlesny would get an opportunity to kick against the Titans in the preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"I can't wait to see how Jack responds," Daniels added.

But Daniels also noted such expectations and excitement last week, when Podlesny watched as Joseph made 54- and 26-yard field goals as well as an extra point in Seattle.

"The way I view every competition: It's me vs. me," Joseph said Thursday. "I focus on me and what I can do better on a daily basis to make myself a better kicker and help this team in the best way possible, and in the same breath I wish him the absolute best."

The Vikings filled Podlesny's roster spot with Aaron Dykes, a 5-11, 202-pound undrafted rookie running back who rushed for 1,980 yards and 16 touchdowns as a 37-game starter across five seasons at Richmond. Dykes also caught 77 passes for 750 yards and eight touchdowns and returned 73 kicks as the Spiders' primary kick returner.

He became the first player in program history to return two kicks for touchdowns in a single game, from 100 and 88 yards at Delaware in 2019.

Cousins: Starters not expecting to play Saturday

Kirk Cousins hasn't appeared in a preseason game since Kevin O'Connell took over as head coach last season, and that is not likely to change soon.

"Looking forward to the game on Saturday — obviously, starters not necessarily expecting to play, but I think it's important to go through that dress rehearsal," Cousins said. "And there are so many young players on our team who haven't played in U.S. Bank before."

Right guard Ed Ingram, safety Camryn Bynum, cornerback Akayleb Evans and defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga were the four Vikings starters who opened the Seahawks game on the field, while Cousins, wide receiver Justin Jefferson, defensive end Danielle Hunter and safety Harrison Smith among others rested.

Last preseason, Cousins was one of 10 starters who didn't take an in-game snap before the regular season.

Hockenson watches before early exit, Blackmon injury

Tight end T.J. Hockenson, who recently cited an ear infection as the reason for his limited practice participation, again left practice early but after he watched red-zone passing and team periods for upwards of an hour. He warmed up and participated in a tight ends drill before that.

Hockenson has left a handful of practices much earlier — sometimes as soon as after team warmups.

"Not really by design as much as just what the protocol has been with him working his way back," O'Connell said Wednesday. "Really, it'd be nice to get him out there and get some reps, but he really hasn't had that opportunity for team [periods], 7-on-7 in a few days. We've got our eyes on getting him back as soon as we can."

Mekhi Blackmon's day also ended prematurely, after an apparent upper-body injury that he suffered during a red-zone passing drill with the Titans. He let out a yelp before a trainer escorted him off the field.

Still, Blackmon didn't immediately leave the practice fields and watched from the sideline up until the punt coverage period.

Rookie Roy returns

Although defensive tackle Jacquelin Roy was a limited participant in his first practice back from an undisclosed injury, he said he may see some reps in Saturday's game and expects to be "full go" for next week's joint practices with the Arizona Cardinals.

Vikings players not observed in attendance Thursday were first-round rookie receiver Jordan Addison (concussion protocol), linebacker Brian Asamoah (undisclosed), running back Kene Nwangwu (undisclosed), receivers Jalen Nailor (left calf) and Garett Maag (right knee), and cornerback C.J. Colden Jr. (undisclosed).

A day after Titans receiver Treylon Burks left practice early because of a leg injury, their rookie quarterback Will Levis exited early. Head coach Mike Vrabel said afterward that the team needs to "see where he's at" before knowing if Levis, a second-round pick, will play Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Cornerback corner

Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. intercepted Malik Willis to conclude the only two-minute drill that ended without a score, then whipped the ball toward the Titans' sideline in celebration.

"It was a lot of talking going on," Booth said. "I shouldn't have did it, wouldn't do it in a game."

Booth stayed on the sideline as Tay Gowan instead replaced a shaken-up Akayleb Evans during the final practice period of the day. Evans got caught in a collision with safety Josh Metellus while almost pulling in an interception to end a Titans red-zone possession.

Receiver roundup

Jalen Reagor and Trishton Jackson mixed in for first-team reps in Addison's absence throughout Thursday, while Brandon Powell was relegated to the second team. That didn't much matter when Cousins catalyzed a dominant Vikings hurry-up drill with a touchdown pass to K.J. Osborn, one of his three catches, and another to Jefferson. But Jackson then worked in with the second team for its drive, which he ended with a touchdown catch from backup quarterback Nick Mullens in the back-right corner of the end zone.

"The coverage scheme they had, he was playing outside leverage so I attacked him vertical," Jackson said. "I knew it was going to be a touchdown before the play, honestly, just knowing it was zone. I just got to my spot on the field."