MINNEAPOLIS - For the first time in almost two years, fans got inside U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday to watch the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings worked out for about 90 minutes in front of more than 5,000 fans as the team concluded its second week of training camp. When practice ended, several players either took selfies with fans or gave them jerseys or gloves, with autographs not allowed this year due to COVID-19 protocols.
"It’s great. Being able to have fans back at practice and now out here in the stadium, it gets us excited. That’s what we love. We don’t have to drink a cup of coffee before you come out here with fans. They bring the juice, they bring the energy," wide receiver Adam Thielen said after practice. "That’s what we were missing last year, so excited to see this entire place full and loud."
"It feels great to have the fans back here in our home, the first time lacing it up as a Viking here in The Bank. It felt great. Can’t wait to get it going Saturday when it kind of counts for something," defensive back Patrick Peterson said.
Here are a few observations from Saturday’s practice:
- Oli Udoh is making the most of getting first-team looks with the offensive line in training camp. In most team drills, the top unit was Rashod Hill, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Udoh and Brian O’Neill. With Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis slowly progressing from injuries, the starting offensive line appears to be taking shape for Week 1.
- D.J. Wonnum had the highlight of the practice, dropping into coverage and intercepting a Jake Browning pass intended for Blake Proehl. Wonnum, battling for the starting defensive end spot opposite Danielle Hunter, took it for a touchdown.
- It was a good day for the kickers, which the Vikings haven’t been able to say a lot. Greg Joseph converted from 35 yards out in a situational drill, and later made a kick from 47 yards out before the end of practice. Riley Patterson, back from the PUP list, followed Joseph and was good from 36 yards and 49 yards out.
- With Justin Jefferson out and Adam Thielen taking limited reps, the main receivers getting work in Saturday were KJ Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Chad Beebe. Dan Chisena also made an impressive catch on a deep ball, with Mackensie Alexander draped on him in coverage.
- There’s no tackling yet, but Ameer Abdullah had a punt return that might have gone for a touchdown. Kene Nwangwu got the majority of reps at kick return.
JUSTIN JEFFERSON, ANTHONY BARR DON’T PRACTICE AT U.S. BANK STADIUM
Justin Jefferson missed Saturday’s practice at U.S. Bank Stadium, standing and watching in sweats over his jersey after suffering in injury in practice Friday. Jefferson dove to make a catch, and hurt his left shoulder. Reports are that Jefferson sprained the AC joint in his shoulder, and it’s not considered serious. He was laughing and joking with teammates Saturday, throwing a football with his right arm.
"Thank the Lord it's nothing serious and he'll be back out there before we know it and grinding away like he loves to do," Thielen said.
Linebacker Anthony Barr not only missed Saturday’s practice, he was not in the stadium. Barr has missed three of the last four practices, with one considered a veteran day earlier this week. There has been no reason given for Barr’s absence.
JOINT PRACTICES WITH DENVER BRONCOS NEXT WEEK
The Vikings have a players’ day off Sunday before returning to TCO Performance Center on Monday. Next week is a reunion of sorts, with the Denver Broncos coming to Eagan for joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday before hosting the Broncos next Saturday in their first preseason game.
"I think we’re where we need to be for the most part. Now going up against another team, it’s just going to get us that much more prepared," Peterson said.
It’ll be the first time the Vikings reunite with George Paton, now the general manager for the Broncos after he spent several years as an assistant to Rick Spielman. It’s also another chance to see Teddy Bridgewater, now competing for the starting quarterback job with the Broncos after being traded from Carolina to Denver in the offseason.
Bridgewater was drafted by the Vikings in 2014, then suffered a career-altering knee injury just before the start of the 2016 season.