The Vikings hosted the 49ers for two days of joint practices in Kevin O'Connell's first training camp with the team. This year, they'll double their efforts against a pair of different teams, Tennessee and Arizona.
O'Connell said Tuesday the Vikings will hold two days of joint practices with each of the teams visiting U.S. Bank Stadium for preseason games this August. They will practice against the Titans, who play in Minneapolis on Aug. 19, before hosting two days of joint practices against the Cardinals in advance of the Aug. 26 preseason finale against them.
"It will give us a tremendous opportunity to have four days of really good competition," O'Connell said. "I know both [Titans coach Mike] Vrabel and [Cardinals coach Jonathan] Gannon. Both of those guys, I have personal relationships with and know what kind of leaders they are. I know what kind of teams they'll be bring here, ready to make sure we get some great work."
Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah worked with new Titans GM Ran Carthon in San Francisco, and the Vikings interviewed Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort before hiring Adofo-Mensah a year ago. Gannon was as an assistant defensive backs coach on former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer's staff from 2014-17.
The Vikings viewed last year's practices with the 49ers as some of their most important preseason work for the veterans who didn't play in any of the team's three exhibition games, as the Vikings kept many of their established starters off the field to preserve their health for the regular season. They could take a similar approach this year, given the fact they'll have four days of competitive practices following their Aug. 10 preseason opener in Seattle.
"If there's a chance to use those [games] to help solidify the best 53 guys for our team, we're going to do that, but never at the cost of potentially overly putting your players at risk," O'Connell said. "And that's where I think, to get your starting groups 70, 80 percent of the work on those [joint practice] days, those guys feel they played a preseason game and then some."
Hoping to see Jefferson 'as soon as possible'
Wide receiver Justin Jefferson has been absent from both of the Vikings' practices open to reporters during organized team activities, as the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year trains away from the team facility during the optional portion of the Vikings' offseason program.
O'Connell said he's had "great dialogue throughout the offseason" with Jefferson, though he said the specifics of their conversations would "stay between Justin and I."
"I just know he's getting work," O'Connell added. "Wherever he's spending his offseason, I look forward to having him here when he decides to come up and I know his teammates are really excited about that."
Jefferson is scheduled to make $2.4 million in the fourth year of his rookie deal, before his salary jumps to $19.74 million on his fifth-year option in 2024. His rookie deal does not include bonuses for participating in the Vikings' offseason program, and players are not required to be in Minnesota until the team's mandatory minicamp begins on June 13.
Jefferson is eligible for a new contract this offseason, and Adofo-Mensah has called an extension a high priority. An eventual deal for Jefferson, who turns 24 next month, could exceed $30 million a season and make the receiver the NFL's highest-paid player at his position.
Addison remains out
First-round pick Jordan Addison did not participate in the Vikings' open practice on Tuesday. The Vikings continued to rest the wide receiver because of an unspecified injury O'Connell said occurred at the end of the team's rookie minicamp two weeks ago.
"We're being overly cautious with him right now," O'Connell said. "It's nothing serious at all. My big thing with him right now is, there's so much learning going on for him. We've got big plans for him, but want to make sure mentally he's in a great space and physically at his best when we allow him to truly go out there and turn it loose."
Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, right tackle Brian O'Neill, cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., defensive tackle Ross Blacklock and running back DeWayne McBride rehabbed injuries on the side of the Vikings' practice on Tuesday. Linebacker Jordan Hicks and safety Harrison Smith returned after missing last week's open practice.