MINNEAPOLIS - It was "Back Together Saturday" across the NFL, and the fans filled TCO Performance Center in Eagan as the Minnesota Vikings held their fourth training camp practice.
More than 3,500 fans filled the bleachers just off the practice fields, and in TCO Stadium to play outdoor games. The Vikings worked out for more than two hours on Saturday, and when it was over, players stayed on the field to spend time with their families, sign autographs and throw free T-shirts to fans. There were at least three "Skol!" chants, and hundreds of fans yelling to get the attention of Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson.
Along with new Vikings Ring of Honor member Jared Allen, Alan Page and Chuck Foreman were at Saturday’s practice.
"It’s an unbelievable set up here for all of our great fans who want to take their time to come out to a practice. I remember times when I was younger, going with my dad to training camp practices and being in the bleachers or right up on the ropes and seeing some of my idols five, 10 feet away from me working on their craft and the impact it had on me," Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said. "I just think it’s a special time of year as we all kind of build up to what’s to come."
"I feel like we have some of the best fans in the country and just to have those guys out here to support us, especially when it’s hot like this, it’s just a blessing. They just make us go harder each and every day," defensive back Cam Dantzler said after practice.
As for the football, the secondary got plenty of work in team situations, both good and not so much, on the afternoon.
- The highlight of the day was Kirk Cousins hitting KJ Osborn for a long touchdown down the sideline, beating Cam Bynum in coverage. Teammates yelled "Go get the ball KJ!" during the play before celebrating.
- Bynum bounced back with a red zone interception on Cousins.
- Cam Dantzler had a pass break-up on Adam Thielen after Thielen made an athletic catch with the third-year defensive back draped on him in coverage.
- Justin Jefferson was his usual self, making several athletic catches, including at least two over the middle and one on a long pass from Cousins
- Kellen Mond hit Jalen Nailor for a touchdown in a red zone situation
- Akayleb Evans broke up a pass from Cousins in the end zone, headed for Zach Davidson
- Lewis Cine nearly had his first interception in camp on a deep ball from Sean Mannion headed for Ihmir Smith-Marsette
- Jesse Davis was back at right guard with the first-team offense after missing Friday’s practice. Linebacker Jordan Hicks was also with the first-team defense after missing the first few days of camp with an illness
VIKINGS ASK FANS NOT TO FILM PLAYS DURING TRAINING CAMP PRACTICE
The Vikings held their first training camp practice in front of their fan base Saturday afternoon, and put an interesting message on the jumbotron at TCO Performance Center.
"Vikings fans: Please help our team, not the opponents, and refrain from taking video of practice," the message said.
Kevin O’Connell is entering his first year as head coach, and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is in his first year in charge of the front office. There were more than 3,500 fans at Saturday’s practice, and likely many of them were trying to capture photos or video of their favorite players making a play. There’s a good chance it ends up on social media.
But would an opponent take advantage of that? O’Connell explained the message on Saturday.
"It ultimately comes down to whatever competitive advantage or disadvantage we may be able to put ourselves in from a situational standpoint. Ultimately there is a level of the unknown, of truly what does this team look like?" O’Connell said. "I ultimately understand when you open up a training camp to get that environment and that energy that you’re ultimately looking for, I understand that there’s going to be some fans that get excited and video some things and put them out there. Ultimately the goal is for our fans to understand that they’re a part of this, and in the excitement and joy of being a part of it, I’m not going to tell anybody sitting in those bleachers what they can and can’t do. But understand that there’s a reason behind it, it’s not just coach speak."
The Vikings have 13 more workouts open to fans during training camp. They put on the pads next Monday, and have their annual night practice on Aug. 8.