Minnesota Vikings training camp crescendoed for nearly a week, as the Vikings put on the pads Monday and ramped up to an intensity similar to normal training camps. Thursday was a day to reel things in and give the team a proverbial breather.
The pads came off, veterans sat out, and most 11-on-11 drills were done at slower speeds. Riley Reiff took practice off except for stretching, while Adam Thielen and Harrison Smith sat out all but a select few drills early in practice. Danielle Hunter missed his fifth straight day with an undisclosed injury.
That opened the door for a few second-teamers to get reps with the 1s. Tajae Sharpe and Justin Jefferson saw more first-team work than usual, with Jefferson capping a two-minute drill with a touchdown catch from Kirk Cousins. Rashod Hill stepped in for Reiff, and Steven Parker surprisingly moved up to play with the 1s in place of Smith at safety.
“He’s always been a good player, trying to battle to become a starter,” Kubiak said. “He started how many games for us last year? I don’t know off-hand. I want to say three or four when Josh was out. [We] played some good football when Dakota was in there. So I just think Dakota’s at a point in his career, he’s a guy who’s battled and battled and battled, and he knows he can do it, and he’s out there every day really doing a hell of a job.”
Here are some other nuggets from a quiet day at Vikings camp:
- The Vikings are using members of their scouting department as makeshift referees since real refs are not permitted to officiate camp practices due to COVID-19. Holton Hill, for instance, drew a penalty flag on a pass breakup Thursday. “Everybody’s on them all the time,” Kubiak said of the substitute refs. “They were well liked when they got started, and after a few days they kind of start to get a hard time, so I won’t name the guys that are in charge.”
- It feels odd not to have a kicking, punting or longsnapping competition. There’s scarcely been a whisper about special teams, mainly because everything seems normal. Dan Bailey went 3-for-3 on field goals Thursday, making him 9-for-9 in live kicks during camp.
- Alexander Hollins made a great sideline catch during a defensive blitz session. He’s been one of the strongest receivers in camp and seems to be putting himself on the roster bubble.
- DB Nate Meadors, DT Armon Watts and WR Quartney Davis returned to practice after missing Wednesday.
The pads will be back on Friday at 1:45 p.m.