Jalyn Holmes ran 7 a.m. sprints in a helmet and shorts on his Ohio street, drawing attention from neighbors as the third-year Vikings defensive lineman tried to slim down without reliable access to a gym during the pandemic.
Holmes (91, above), who is taking first-team reps at defensive end while Danielle Hunter was sidelined Wednesday for a third straight practice, dropped to 277 pounds after weighing as much as 300 pounds as a defensive tackle last season.
A move back to end, his old Ohio State position, meant no dairy or fast food this summer, and a lot of cardio “to be able to run at defensive end,” he said Wednesday via videoconference.
A 2018 fourth-round pick, Holmes has struggled to find a consistent role in two Vikings seasons, playing a career-high 38 snaps with fellow reserves in last year’s regular season finale.
Holmes has briefly appeared in NFL action as an end, but the Vikings hope a full-time move is a better fit.
“[End] is probably a better spot for him,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “Things don’t happen quite as fast out there at end. So far he’s done a nice job and we’re looking forward to more improvement.”
Because of Hunter’s injury, which Zimmer said is minor, the Vikings’ end depth is getting early exposure amid the backdrop of Everson Griffen choosing the Cowboys over a return to Minnesota. Holmes’ offseason makeover could provide dividends with room on the depth chart to earn a rotational role.
“Cut red meat. I just ate cleaner,” Holmes said. “Got my smoothie game up over the offseason, so I just cut a lot of the bad weight I felt like I had the first two years.”
Watts held out
The Vikings’ defensive line depth bears watching, especially as backup nose tackle Armon Watts joined Hunter on the sideline during Wednesday’s practice.
Next man up was David Moa, an undrafted rookie out of Boise State who took nose tackle reps behind starter Shamar Stephen. Another newcomer, defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, the New Year’s Eve addition off the Bills’ practice squad last year, has taken some of Hunter’s first-team reps with Holmes.
Two players, guard Dru Samia and tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart, returned Wednesday after being held out for a day. Punter Britton Colquitt was not spotted at practice for the second time in three days.
Cousins: ‘Best days still ahead of me’
On Wednesday, quarterback Kirk Cousins turned 32, a less noteworthy age for NFL passers, who now sometimes have productive careers into their 40s. Cousins said he doesn’t have a “specific age” he’d like to play to, but he hopes to keep playing for “a long time.”
“I believe that my best days are still ahead of me,” he said, “and I’m pretty convicted about that. I think I have reason to be. I’m part of a great organization with a good football team with great coaches, and I still feel young.”
Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune.