It’s far from a certainty that crowd noise will impact games this season as NFL teams make determinations whether their home stadium will host fans. But as they do each season, the Minnesota Vikings began pumping in artificial crowd noise at Wednesday’s practice to put more strain on the offense. Artificial noise may actually end up being a realistic simulation, since most major sports leagues have resorted to ambient fan noise during games without spectators.
Wednesday’s practice was spirited once again as the offense focused primarily on red zone drills. But an unfortunate theme of the day was drops. Tajae Sharpe, Chad Beebe (two), Brandon Dillon, Dillon Mitchell and Irv Smith Jr. all dropped passes over the course of practice, while defensive backs broke up several others.
The most stimulating sequence of the day came on a three-play sequence during red zone work. On the first play of the session, Kirk Cousins hit Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown on Harrison Smith. On the second play he lobbed a pass for Rudolph in the back of the end zone that Harris swatted out of Rudolph’s hands at the last moment. Play No. 3 gave Rudolph a third opportunity to make a play on a pass that looked similar to the one he caught to win the NFC Wild Card game, this time over Eric Kendricks. Rudolph celebrated with a spike in the back left corner of the end zone.
Another big storyline of camp continues to be Dalvin Cook‘s contract, which appears to be going on the backburner. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Cook and the Vikings tabled negotiations, and ESPN’s Courtney Cronin added that the Vikings weren’t budging much off their initial offer. Nonetheless, Cook continues to participate in practices, albeit in a limited capacity. The Vikings are treating Cook in practice like they would’ve in preseason games, keeping his carries to a minimum but allowing him to go through individual work. Alexander Mattison has taken the majority of first-team reps.
“I just know that [Dalvin] is a leader,” Mattison said when asked about Cook’s contract situation. “He comes in here every day ready to work. So yeah, wishing the best for him. He’s a leader in all senses of the word in the running back room and out there on that field.”
Here are the rest of Wednesday’s takeaways:
- Danielle Hunter missed a fourth straight practice and was joined by DT Armon Watts off to the side. Absent were WR Quartney Davis and DB Nate Meadors. G Dru Samia and TE Nakia Griffin-Stewart returned.
- The Vikings used their sixth second-string defensive end in five camp practices with D.J. Wonnum rotating in. Meanwhile, Jalyn Holmes — who has primarily transitioned to end — took some 3-technique reps with the second-team and opened up a spot for Eddie Yarbrough with the first team. Hercules Mata’afa also took some first-team DT reps.
- It appeared as if Cameron Dantzler got the bulk of first-team corner reps over Jeff Gladney when the team played nickel. Said Zimmer about Dantzler on Wednesday: “Well, he’s really trying to do everything right. He seems to be pretty disciplined in what he’s doing and what we’re asking him to do. If we tell him to step with his left foot, he typically does that. He’s been good in press [coverage] with the technique that we’re trying to teach. He just seems to be able to take it from the meeting room to walkthrough to the practice.”
- During situational drills the Vikings offense was given 1 minute, 2 seconds and one timeout to march roughly 75 yards for a game-tying touchdown. It resulted in a Hail Mary heave by Cousins that went out the back of the end zone.
Team practice No. 6 and padded practice No. 4 occurs Thursday at 1:45 p.m.