Tom Dahlin/Viking Update

Minnesota Vikings OTA analysis: Practice gets intense

The Minnesota Vikings brought a new level of intensity to their practice Tuesday, with receivers and defensive backs getting intensely competitive and talking trash. We review the action.

A day after Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer made the offense run a little, both the offensive and defensive players were running their mouths on Tuesday.

It started early in Tuesday’s practice when Terence Newman and Jayron Kearse were beaten by Moritz Böhringer for a 50-yard touchdown.

Stefon Diggs and Newman started throwing good-natured barbs at each other about a different plays with others, including Everson Griffen, getting involved. Griffen implored Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes to shut down the receivers.

“Terence is a guy who has an awful lot of pride. If you want to talk a little noise to him, he's going to take your challenge,” Zimmer said. “You better be careful not to wake up that bear.”

On the next play, Newman came up and popped Laquon Treadwell at the line of scrimmage as Treadwell released at the snap of the ball. It didn’t seem to faze Treadwell, who seemed willing to let Diggs do the talking for the offense while he took care of his business on the play.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1783212-zimmer-returns-optimistic...

Rhodes, once a quiet player, also joined in the rebuttals while Teddy Bridgewater played peacemaker when one seemingly wasn’t needed.

“We compete every day. We feel that's how we're going to get each other better and get ready for the regular season,” Rhodes said after practice.

“Terence was pretty hyped up today. We love to see that [from] a guy like that. He's always been a mellow, chill guy. Today, he was like, ‘Forget it, I'm going to get out there and be competitive and loud today.’ That got us riled up today.”

It was, indeed, a spirited practice.

Maybe the return of Zimmer to practice this week helped fuel the competitiveness. The head coach was essentially forced to take two weeks off following his eighth eye surgery, but on Tuesday appeared relaxed and didn’t seem to mind the trash talking between his defense and offense.

“Yeah, it's good to see these guys and the way that they compete and the way they try to do things right,” Zimmer said. “When we have a meeting in the morning and I tell them what I want to work on today and what I want to get accomplished, to see them come out here and do it and pay attention, that's why I like this football team so much.”

Diggs and Rhodes never did let their emotions spill over into overly physical play or extracurriculars, but at one point Diggs appeared primed to give out another tongue lashing to the defense when Zimmer pointed him back to the huddle.

While Rhodes has usually been a quiet but effective defender, he is making more of an effort to be vocal if that helps the team.

“It's an edge every day. We feel like we have to win every day,” he said. “Like I said, we just try to make each other better. On offense, the receivers are trying to beat us on certain routes and we're trying to stop them on certain routes. We're just trying to win each and every day.”

OTA OBSERVATIONS

  • QB Sam Bradford threw during individual drills, but he didn’t practice when the offense and defense were going against each other. Zimmer said Bradford had muscle tightness but anticipates he could practice on Wednesday. 
  • Harrison Smith sat out during the full-team drills, too. He said last week he was doing everything in practices as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery and last week he was participating fully during Wednesday’s open practice. This Tuesday was a different story. Anthony Harris took Smith’s place alongside Andrew Sendejo. Harris had an interception on a deep pass intended for Diggs during full-team work.
  • Also not practicing on Tuesday were DT Sharrif Floyd (knee/quad), S Antone Exum (knee), RB Latavius Murray (ankle), LB Emmanuel Lamur, LB Shaan Washington (ankle), WR R.J. Shelton and DT Dylan Bradley.
  • The starting offensive line remained the same as it has throughout OTAs – from left to right, Riley Reiff, Alex Boone, Nick Easton, Joe Berger and Mike Remmers.
  • Jerick McKinnon got a lot of first-team reps, but Eric Kendricks ruined the first full-team play with a touch tackle of McKinnon in the backfield.
  • Laquon Treadwell continues to look good, catching a 20-yard pass over the middle while diving with Rhodes all over him. That earned a fist bump from Zimmer as Treadwell headed back to the huddle.
  • Kicker Kai Forbath was 5-for-6 on field goals ranging from 40 to 43 yards, missing one 43-yarder wide right. Marshall Koehn was 2-for-2, hitting from 46 and 49 yards.
  • With Bradford sitting out, QB Case Keenum started the red zone portion of practice by hitting Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown.
  • Rookie LB Elijah Lee stopped a third-and-goal play from 2-yard line with a touch tackle of Jarius Wright at the line of scrimmage.
  • Diggs got the best of Newman on one red zone play with a 12-yard touchdown reception.
  • Adam Thielen also had a 5-yard touchdown from Taylor Heinicke, who was rolling away from pressure and threw a perfect sideline pass with Rhodes trailing in coverage. Rhodes gave Thielen props, saying it was the “hardest completion” immediately after the play and then crediting Thielen after practice with being a “technician” on his routes.
  • Michael Floyd made a diving 6-yard touchdown catch in red zone work.
  • Newman knocked down a Heinicke pass on a delayed blitz with a leap and two hands in the air a few yards before reaching the quarterback. Newman later knocked a ball out of McKinnon’s hands as the running back tried to adjust to a poorly located pass.
  • Rookie RB Dalvin Cook beat LB Edmond Robinson for a 30-yard pass.
  • WR Cayleb Jones, who has been looking good in practices, caught a 20-yard pass over CB Mackensie Alexander.
  • The Vikings have their final OTA practices Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and Wednesday afternoon have their charity golf tournament at The Meadows at Mystic Lake in Prior Lake.


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