A daily dispatch from Eagan
Setting the scene
A crowd nearing the 5,000-seat capacity in Eagan on Monday watched the second padded session of training camp happen under beautifully clear skies and 76 degrees, interrupted at times by wind gusts upward of 20 miles per hour. The Vikings’ guests included a Timberwolves contingent of head coach Ryan Saunders, rookie Naz Reid and ex-Gophers forward Jordan Murphy. Former NFL coaches Hue Jackson, Joe Philbin and Jim Haslett were in attendance again. “They just called and asked if they could come out,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “It’s good, because I can sit in there and talk to them about different things.”
Officials slow defense’s roll
A strong day for the defense had only a few interruptions. Defensive end Everson Griffen, safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Anthony Barr headed straight for the practice officials on the sideline after running back Dalvin Cook caught a pass and waltzed in for a touchdown to end a goal-line drill. Barr emphatically pleaded his case he was held, preventing coverage of Cook. Earlier in practice, cornerback Trae Waynes was flagged twice for pass interference, once while guarding receiver Adam Thielen and another against tight end Kyle Rudolph. The latter flag drew a reaction from Zimmer. “I thought one was a bad call, too,” Zimmer said. “I fired them in the spring, all the officials. I told them they’re back on probation.”
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes’ growl cut through the summer wind when he stayed stride for stride with Thielen on a comeback route, deflecting the pass and ending the first-team offense’s session. Rhodes was animated throughout the afternoon, also coaching up second-year cornerback Holton Hill during passing drills. Third-year nose tackle Jaleel Johnson was also heard loud and clear when he broke through guard Josh Kline’s block and, with a resonating thud, stood up running back Ameer Abdullah in the backfield.
Work in progress
During one-on-one pass rushing drills, defensive end Danielle Hunter sailed past right tackle Brian O’Neill in a flash. Both O’Neill and offensive line coach Rick Dennison wanted to see it again. In Round 2, O’Neill grappled with Hunter’s limbs and eventually held for a stalemate a few feet into the backfield. So goes the work-in-progress pass blocking for this Vikings offensive line.
“Doesn’t do anything now! Game’s over!” – Barr said to an official after pleading his case he was held during Cook’s TD reception.
Receiver Brandon Zylstra (hamstring) returned to practice after missing three sessions on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list. Defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes (right leg) also returned after missing one practice. Seven Vikings did not practice, including cornerback Mike Hughes (knee) and tight end David Morgan (undisclosed); both remain on PUP. Neither did defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (undisclosed), defensive end Tashawn Bower (Achilles’), defensive tackle Curtis Cothran (undisclosed) and nose tackle Linval Joseph (undisclosed).