The Vikings just walked off the practice fields outside Paul Brown Stadium following their first day of joint practices with the Bengals. The heat was punishing, with humidity around 100 percent, after showers hit the area in the morning and sprinkles brought temporary relief in the afternoon.
After the two teams got warmed up on adjacent fields and did individual drills, I counted six inter-squad periods where Vikings and Bengals faced off against each other. They included periods for third-down work, red zone, 7-on-7 passing, line drills and field goals against would-be blockers.
I chose to keep a close watch this afternoon on the Vikings defenders, who put the clamps on their first-team counterparts from Cincinnati.
RED ROCKET ON THE RUN: Right away, the Vikings defense had Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on the run. On the first rep of inter-squad drills, Dalton was forced to pull down the ball and scramble. Two plays later, right defensive end Everson Griffen stunted inside to beat defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen to the sack. Left end Brian Robison added a sack in that opening period, too. The Vikings kept the heat on, figuratively speaking, throughout the practice in an impressive effort against their hosts. The first-team defense had a couple of lapses in a red-zone passing drill and a couple of late third-down plays. But for the most part, I think coach Mike Zimmer will be pleased with his defense.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: With veteran cornerback Terence Newman left home in the Twin Cities, young corner Trae Waynes, the 2015 first-round pick, got a chance to seize pole position in the race to start on the left side. But Waynes missed most of the afternoon session. It is believed that he wasn’t feeling well due to the heat. With Waynes out, it was mostly Jabari Price, who is on the roster bubble, who got first-team reps in the nickel with Captain Munnerlyn remaining in the slot. He seemed to fare OK even though he lined up against Bengals star wideout A.J. Green a few times. We’ll see if Waynes gets hydrated and back into the mix tomorrow.
NICE PICK, ROOKIE: Rookie cornerback Mackensie Alexander, the team’s second-round pick, also got a lot of run with Waynes and Newman not practicing. He spent most of the time with the second-stringers. He made one of the plays of the day when he stepped in front of an A.J. McCarron pass intended for Bengals wideout Jake Kumerow and picked it off.
NO BRAWLS TODAY: As expected, there were no Lesnarian antics when the two teams coached by close friends Mike Zimmer and Marvin Lewis practiced together. The only obviously unfriendly moment came when Bengals cornerback Adam Jones ripped the helmet off the head of wide receiver Adam Thielen, who did not take kindly to that and confronted him. A few players from both teams surged toward the two, but nothing materialized and Thielen and Jones went back to their respective huddles.
BERGER GETS THE NOD: Joe Berger manned the middle of the Vikings offensive line that took on a pretty good Bengals defensive front today. On his left were Matt Kalil and Alex Boone. On his right were Brandon Fusco and Andre Smith. John Sullivan was mostly with the second team.
THEY SAID IT: “I need two Gatorades. That’s what happens when all your nickel[back]s are missing.” — Munnerlyn, who took a ton of snaps in this heat, after a reporter asked him during practice if he wanted one Gatorade.
INJURY REPORT: The same 10 players who were not spotted at today’s morning walkthrough were not present for the afternoon practice.