Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell praised the progress of his cornerbacks this training camp as one of them, second-year pro Andrew Booth Jr., continued to deal with yet another injury-related setback that kept him out of the team's Thursday night practice.

"I think they're off to a really good start of understanding how we're asking them to play," O'Connell said. "And, really, the mind-set, snap in and snap out, can really change whether it's a certain look where they know they may be on an island or they're reading their keys as far as the quarterback's drop or whatever it may be.'

"And then there are looks where it's all about getting their hands on receivers and throwing off the [receivers] and putting in a disruption to our passing game that doesn't allow us to have a rhythm."

Booth left the field with a trainer because of an undisclosed injury on Tuesday. He didn't participate in sessions on Wednesday or Thursday either.

"I want to make sure he's seen the folks he needs to see," O'Connell said. "And work through that whole thing and err on the side of caution."

Meanwhile, rookie third-round pick Mekhi Blackmon continues to work as the No. 3 corner behind Byron Murphy Jr. and Akayleb Evans. Blackmon has done that since the team put full pads on earlier this week. Even with O'Connell's praise for the position, the team hosted free agent cornerback Ronald Darby, the former Bills and Eagles starter, for a workout on Thursday, per a league source.

"What I keep challenging that group to do now is consistency," O'Connell said. "Can we really find guys that can handle everything about our defense in this competition phase?

"And the thing about these [upcoming] joint practices are about the time [the corners] get comfortable, knowing what we do and how we operate, we'll have two straight practices two straight weeks of 100 percent different philosophies, calls. And there won't be a lot of game-planning for that. We'll be asking our guys to go out and execute our systems versus different looks and personnel, and do it in a controlled environment that gets a lot of work for our 1s and our 2s."

Getting a glimpse

Charles Gordon, who played cornerback for the Vikings from 2006-08 before an ankle injury ended his career, was back at the team's training camp this week in a different role.

Gordon took part in the team's second annual Gilliam-Reichow Personnel Fellowship, a program the Vikings introduced last year to provide opportunities for former players interested in scouting careers. The 39-year-old, who's currently coaching at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Calif., spent the week with the team's scouting and personnel departments and talked with Vikings coaches and operations people during his fellowship.

"Just hitting on all those different deals was huge," Gordon said. "It takes a lot of people to make this run smoothly, so [players are] able to just go out and perform and not have to worry about anything."

'Metellus is built for it'

Nobody has played more special teams snaps for the Vikings than safety Josh Metellus since he was drafted in 2020's sixth round out of Michigan. Matt Daniels, the special teams coordinator said he doesn't expect to lose Metellus from any kick or coverage phases despite the 25-year-old's apparent promotion into a part-time role in the new Vikings defense.

"I expect to have Metellus the same amount I did last year," Daniels said, "and he understands and knows. Coach Brian Flores talks about all the time that conditioning precedes all, and that's part of the conditioning aspect. We have to be trained and ready to take on 30 special teams snaps while also being able to take on 30 defensive snaps, and Metellus is built for it."


  • Former Vikings defenders Chad Greenway and Brian Robison were at TCO Stadium at team headquarters for the team's annual night practice. Greenway, with his four daughters, led a Skol chant beforehand.
  • Edge rusher Marcus Davenport (undisclosed), Booth, running back Kene Nwangwu (undisclosed) and receivers Jalen Nailor (left leg) and Trishton Jackson (right leg) did not practice Thursday night. Davenport participated in walk-through earlier in the day.
  • The kicking competition ended the night. Greg Joseph made four of seven attempts, missing two of four tries from beyond 50 yards. Rookie kicker Jack Podlesny converted three of four field-goal attempts.
  • The Vikings shuffled offensive line depth, signing tackles Jarrid Williams and Christian DiLauro. The team released tackle Bobby Evans, a day after waiving tackle Sam Schlueter.
  • With Nwangwu sidelined, the Vikings also plan to sign former D.C. Defenders running back Abram Smith, the XFL announced Thursday. A corresponding move is needed.

Star Tribune writer Ben Goessling contributed to this report.