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Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell impressed with enthusiasm of fans at night practice

“Nights like this are when you kind of feel just how special our fan base really is,’’ O’Connell said before the practice.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp - O'Connell
Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell during the team's training camp on July 27, 2022 at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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EAGAN, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings first-year coach Kevin O’Connell was eating dinner at around 5 p.m. Monday when he looked out at TCO Stadium in Eagan. A night practice was scheduled for 7:15 p.m., and fans were already arriving.

“Nights like this are when you kind of feel just how special our fan base really is,’’ O’Connell said before the practice.

Once the workout started, O’Connell got even more of a feel for the fans. A packed crowd of about 7,000 took in the practice.

“I know I speak for all of these (players) when I tell you we feel you guys will have a huge role on our season,’’ O’Connell told the fans afterward. “I’ve been on that sideline (at U.S. Bank Stadium as an opposing coach). It’s not fun. … It’s going to be a tough experience for everybody we play for these guys right here.’’

The fans did their best to cheer even though there weren’t a lot of spectacular plays when Minnesota scrimmaged. The defense mostly got the better of the offense, but perhaps that was encouraging for the Vikings since the defense has struggled the past two seasons.

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Cornerback Patrick Peterson had a nifty breakup of a pass in the end zone by Kirk Cousins intended for Adam Thielen. And edge rusher Za’Darius Smith had what would have been a big sack of backup quarterback Kellen Mond had the Vikings been doing full tackling.

On offense, running back Kene Nwangwu had a quick burst for a 15-yard touchdown run, and Mond a slick short TD pass on the right side to Trishton Jackson. But Jackson later couldn’t hang on to what would have been a long completion from Mond.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks Kellen Mond (11), Kirk Cousins (8), and Sean Mannion (14) warm up during training camp on July 29, 2022, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports

In the battle to be the backup quarterback behind Cousins, Mond and Sean Mannion have been splitting second-team reps in training camp. That continued Monday with Mond getting initial reps with the second-team.

But neither Mond nor Mannion did much. With most eyes on Mond, he had a few plays that would have been sacks, he threw some wayward passes and couldn’t move the team in the two-minute offense.

The biggest cheers of the night actually came when kicker Greg Joseph made seven of eight field-goal attempts late in the practice. His only miss was from 41 yards. But Joseph more than made up for it when he drilled a 58-yarder on the final play and was mobbed by teammates.

The Vikings did not make players available for interviews after the practice. O’Connell spoke to reporters before the workout and addressed fans afterward.

“I love this team,’’ O’Connell told the crowd. “I love our coaches. These guys have bought into everything that we’ve tried to do since we got here and it’s showing day in and day out. … They’re going to be a problem for everybody we play.’’

O’Connell then had a final remark for the fans.

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“At our stadium, we should never, ever see the other team’s color in the stands,’’ he said.

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CINE NOT AT PRACTICE

Rookie safety Lewis Cine was not at the practice. The Vikings said his absence was excused and he will be back at practice Wednesday. Players are off Tuesday.

Rookie cornerback Akayleb Evans and wide receiver Dan Chisena watched Monday from the sideline due to undisclosed injuries.

BRIEFLY

Chris Reed, perhaps pushing Garrett Bradbury to start at center, took second-team snaps. … Edge rusher Danielle Hunter lauded the play of second-year tackle Christian Darrisaw. “He took a big leap from year one,” he said. “The potential for him is limitless.” … Hunter said when he went to Manchester, England, this summer, he bought a single-seat BAC Mono. “It’s a track car,” he said. “I like running track because I like corners and stuff. Defensive end. Corners.” Hunter said the car will be shipped next year to the U.S.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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