During Wednesday's practice — the Vikings' third organized team activity this week and the first open to reporters — only two of five offensive line spots were the exact same in front of quarterback Kirk Cousins since he last suited up for the 2020 finale in Detroit.
Swing tackle Rashod Hill took initial reps at left tackle, where first-round draft pick Christian Darrisaw is eventually expected to replace Riley Reiff. Guards Dakota Dozier and Ezra Cleveland switched spots, with Dozier working on the right side and Cleveland on the left, as the coaching staff assesses options.
"The mind-set right now [is] we want to move some guys around and see," offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak said Wednesday. "Ezra Cleveland on the left, we can get Dakota to the right; those guys are Swiss-Army knives. They know many positions. So we want to make sure they know as many as possible, because things happen in the season and you've got to move guys around. This is the time of the year to try those things."
Darrisaw, the rookie out of Virginia Tech, lined up as the second team's left tackle while rookie Wyatt Davis stayed at right guard with the twos. Perhaps this sets up a future battle at right guard, where Davis was a third-round pick and Dozier, last year's starting left guard, re-signed this spring on a veteran minimum deal with nothing guaranteed.
Here are some more observations from Wednesday's practice:
- The Vikings had 82 of 87 players on the field, only missing defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Hercules Mata'afa, cornerbacks Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler, and punter Britton Colquitt. The warm-up music included a nod to the late DMX with "X 'Gon Give It To Ya."
- Rookie quarterback Kellen Mond operated the third-team offense while quarterbacks Nate Stanley and Jake Browning rotated with the second unit. Only Cousins and Stanley got mock two-minute drills at the end of practice, both resulting in successful field goals from kicker Greg Joseph.
- On a windy morning in Eagan, passes were kept short with few successful downfield shots. The highlights included Cousins connecting with receiver Justin Jefferson on a post route to set up Joseph's first field goal. Second-year receiver K.J. Osborn had an impressive catch, twisting his body to grab a Stanley pass thrown behind him to set up Joseph's second field goal.
- Second-year cornerback Harrison Hand snagged a bobbled ball for the day's lone interception off Cousins during 11-on-11 drills. Hand worked with the second-team defense behind cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander and Kris Boyd.
- Running back Dalvin Cook was once again an energetic blur, showcasing uncatchable speed on runs to the edge and down the sideline. "Business is business, but I like to bring that kid out of everybody," Cook said afterward. "I'm still a kid. I'm 25 and having fun on the field. That's my happy place."
- Cook, Alexander Mattison and Ameer Abdullah rotated with the first-team offense, lining up out wide for a top offense that will often feature two tight ends or a fullback. "Who's the third-best wideout?" Kubiak said. "It might be a tight end, it might be the halfback in the game at that point. But we have a lot of options."
- Without Hunter at the voluntary sessions, the Vikings' new-look defensive line featured defensive ends D.J. Wonnum and Stephen Weatherly, nose tackle Michael Pierce, and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Coach Mike Zimmer said in March that changes would be coming to the Vikings' defensive scheme, and perhaps that'll include the front seven after we saw a mix of 3-4/4-3 fronts on Wednesday.
- Linebacker Eric Kendricks ran through warmups and positional drills, but was the only veteran present who did not participate in 11-on-11 drills.