Vikings: Defenses win Day 1 of joint practices with Tennessee Titans

The Minnesota Vikings hosted the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday for the first of two joint practices at TCO Performance Center, and the workout was physical while also respectable.

The players all agreed after practice it was good to go against another jersey in a live, but controlled situation. The Vikings have been facing each other for more than two weeks, and it’s this time of the year where that starts to get old.

"Good for the 1s to be able to go against somebody else, other than our teammates. We get to check our intensity by going against somebody else," edge rusher Danielle Hunter said.

It got chippy at times, but the day ended without any fights.

"That’s why I love this work. Different looks than what we get every day from our defense, the ability to compete. It got pushed right to that line today, but I thought it was really professional work across the board," Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said.

"It’s hard to contain it, it’s good to see the looks that we’re going to get a real live game. Chippiness is going to happen, it’s the nature of the game. If you don’t have a chip on your shoulder, it’s when you come out here and you’re not going to be at your highest level," linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "Both teams are well-coached and understand what it is."

Both defenses won the day. Here are a few highlights of the afternoon:

  • The Vikings new defense under Brian Flores created all kinds of pressure against the Titans, with multiple sacks on the day.
  • Minnesota’s offense struggled as well, with Kirk Cousins being intercepted by Roger McCreary in a late-game situation on a throw intended for K.J. Osborn. Nick Mullens was then intercepted on a tipped pass in the same situation.
  • The Titans did not score in either of their two late-game possessions.
  • The highlight of the day came on special teams, with Ryan Wright booming long punts with the help of a stiff down breeze, giving fans a reason to oooh and ahhh.

"He had a great day. I was down there trying to chirp him, we did let him kick downwind today. He just kept on hitting them and getting the guys fired up. You know you’ve had a good day as a punter when the crowd in the bleachers are chanting your name," O’Connell said.

  • The most intense part of the day came in individual punt gunner drills, with plenty of trash talking between both teams.
  • The only near altercation of the day came on a special teams drill where Najee Thompson had words for the Titans. Mike Vrabel sprinted across the practice field, but by the time the Titans’ head coach arrived, the skirmish had broken up.
  • Jordan Addison missed Tuesday’s practice because he’s in the concussion protocol, suffered during a practice earlier this week on a catch going to the ground. O’Connell is hoping he returns next Monday, which means he won’t play in Saturday’s home preseason game.
  • T.J. Hockenson was in pads and did individual drills, but did not participate in team situations. He’s coming back from an ear infection that affected his equilibrium. Linebacker Brian Asamoah did not practice.
  • Brian O’Neill did individual work, but is still coming back from last year’s Achilles injury. O’Connell hopes to have him back for workouts next week against the Arizona Cardinals.

It was one day, but it was an afternoon for the Vikings to compete.

"It’s definitely good to go against someone else, to have another opponent to look across from. Definitely good work, good competition. Every day you’re just trying to get better and better at your craft," wide receiver Justin Jefferson said after practice. "It doesn’t matter if we’re going against us or we’re going another team, I’m trying to better myself every day and trying to compete."