MINNEAPOLIS - For nearly two weeks, the Minnesota Vikings have been going to work on their manicured practice fields at TCO Performance Center.
Monday night, the team took training camp inside TCO Stadium in front of a sellout crowd of more than 7,000 fans on an absolutely perfect summer night in Eagan. The Vikings had their fourth straight practice, seventh in eight days and fifth in full pads.
"It’s really exciting having the fans being able to come out there and watch us go to work. I know they come to game days and support us and all that, so being able to have them come and see us put in the work, iron sharpening iron, all that stuff, it’s exciting for us," defensive end Danielle Hunter said before practice. "And having our families also being able to come and see us practice, that’s something that we really like."
Kevin O’Connell spoke with reporters before practice and said the team has not only embraced the new coaching staff, but they’ve also learned how to practice in pads with physicality and push each other while also largely avoiding injury.
O’Connell was excited to get his first look at the Vikings in a stadium setting.
"Tonight is going to be really exciting, nights like this are when you kind of feel just how special our fan base really is. The idea of we can put on a practice and hopefully put on a show for our fans at this point in training camp, in our stadium, to do all this here is really something," O’Connell said.
After practice, O’Connell took the microphone and addressed Vikings fans before Paul Allen, the play-by-play announcer for the Vikings Radio Network, introduced each player by name in front of the fans. O’Connell thanked every fan for coming, and had a message for fans before the Vikings host the Green Bay Packers Sept. 11 at U.S. Bank Stadium in his debut as a head coach.
"At our stadium, we should never, ever see the other team’s colors in the stands. I don’t want to see any green, I don’t want to see any yellow at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 11," O’Connell said.
Here are notes from Monday’s practice:
- Rookie Lewis Cine was the only player not to attend Monday night’s workout. Team officials said after it was an excused absence, and he’ll be back at practice on Wednesday.
- Kellen Mond had another up-and-down night as the No. 2 quarterback. He was nearly intercepted by Cam Dantzler, and fumbled another snap that was recovered by Eric Kendricks. He hit Trishton Jackson for a touchdown in a team situation, and also hit Bisi Johnson for a touchdown on a play where it was likely a sack in a live situation.
- Kellen Mond also tried to hit Jackson on a deep shot, but Kris Boyd got the pass break-up at the last second
- Alexander Mattison had a cut back for a touchdown in a red zone situation
- Kene Nwangwu had a rushing touchdown after missing the early portion of training camp with an injury
- Kirk Cousins tried to hit Adam Thielen for a red zone touchdown, but Patrick Peterson was there for the pass break-up. Thielen wanted a penalty on the play.
- Greg Joseph hit the left upright three straight times while doing individual work. The first two were missed, but the third hit the inside of the post and was good.
- Kirk Cousins led a two-minute drill before the end of practice, getting the offense in field goal range. Joseph split the uprights from 45 yards out.
- The night ended with Greg Joseph putting on a show. He finished 7-of-8 in live kicking, with his only miss from 41 yards out. He converted three straight from 50-plus yards out, and finished the night with a 58-yarder that had plenty of room to spare. O'Connell gushed about Joseph before practice, saying he knows when a kick is good just by hearing it come off Joseph's foot.
The Vikings are off Tuesday before resuming practice on Wednesday at TCO Performance Center. They’ll have three more days of workouts before playing their first preseason game on Sunday at the Las Vegas Raiders.