Coach Kevin O'Connell gave Vikings veterans, and even young starters, excused absences from this week's final stretch of voluntary practices.

That means offensive assistant Ben Ellefson, the former tight end from Hawley, Minn., was long snapping during Wednesday's punting period instead of 36-year-old long snapper Andrew DePaola. And receiver Jalen Nailor, the third-year speedster, was getting the ball early and often while receivers Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and Brandon Powell were likely halfway to a sandy beach somewhere.

O'Connell said Vikings coaches are looking for Nailor to "take that next step" as they search for a new No. 3 receiver following K.J. Osborn's exit to the Patriots in free agency. Nailor, a 2022 sixth-round pick out of Michigan State, missed much of last year because of a hamstring strain and concussion. He was again out during last week's minicamp because he had the flu, O'Connell said, but he returned to a busy role this week.

"That third receiver spot is going to be very competitive," O'Connell said Wednesday. "There's a bunch of guys that had really good springs. I mean Jalen Nailor had another really good offseason program. ... When he's healthy and on the field, he shows up every single opportunity he's gotten. That's our challenge to him is sometimes things are out of your control and then we understand that, but for him to take that next step, we're gonna need to see him out there a lot as part of that group."

O'Connell praised Addison's offseason, saying he's shown growth by gaining strength and playing through contact, although shoulder pads aren't allowed until training camp.

Tight end Nick Muse, a 2022 seventh-round pick, missed much of the offseason program because of a knee injury that required surgery this spring.

"Something that was kind of lingering," O'Connell said of Muse's injury, "and developed to a point where we wanted to make sure he was able to have the best possible training camp he can by getting that cleaned up when we did."

The Vikings signed tight end Robert Tonyan, the former Packers and Bears target, last month for depth. Tight end T.J. Hockenson is not expected to be ready for the season opener after Jan. 29 surgery to repair a torn ACL.

'Special human being'

O'Connell said he attended the memorial services on Tuesday for slain Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell, and said, "We lost a special, special human being."

"I wanted to be there to support the law enforcement community in a really, really tough time," said O'Connell, whose father was an FBI agent. "The more and more I had learned about Jamal and really what he was all about and even his intentions on joining the Minneapolis Police Department, it was something that hit a chord for me, coming from law enforcement in my family. But then even more so, he did work our games; he was a part of our game-day outfit that worked our games. He was right outside the Delta Club where I come out to the field and was there for the better part of my two years."

Turner turning heads

A couple of weeks ago, left tackle Christian Darrisaw said he was left in awe when rookie edge rusher Dallas Turner, the 17th overall draft pick, put a spin move on a teammate to win a pass-rushing drill, using an expletive to describe his astonishment.

Turner returned the praise Wednesday when asked about the play.

"It was kind of just a reaction," Turner said. "Appreciate C.D. for that comment. ... My first day going against [Darrisaw], I kind of seen what he was like. He's like that for sure."

Bring Your Kid to Work Day

Many ball boys and girls ran around the indoor fieldhouse at TCO Performance Center in Eagan during Wednesday's practice, including O'Connell's oldest son, Kaden. O'Connell allowed his coaches to bring their kids who were 8 and older to the facility for the day. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores walked through footwork pointers with one of his young sons, while a child in a personalized "Sorrentino" Vikings jersey followed around assistant receivers coach Tony Sorrentino.