With Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. out until Week 1 after right thumb surgery, Johnny Mundt — an offseason pickup from the Rams — is getting opportunities to work with the first-team offense in Smith's spot. Mundt caught a touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins in the red zone on Friday, staying in bounds to make the catch after separating from coverage near the sideline.
Mundt, who played in coach Kevin O'Connell's scheme with the Rams, said he has been able to provide on-field advice to players about the details of the offense as they learn the playbook.
"I hope they would say I've been a big help — making sure we're lined up right, reminding people what they've got," Mundt said. "There's opportunities to do it right. I like to be Johnny on the spot."
Mundt echoed the Vikings' optimism about Smith's chances to return for the season opener against the Packers. Until then, he said, "it opens up some more doors.
"I'm getting a lot more reps in practices, in third-down situations, things like that, just building chemistry with Kirk and the other quarterbacks on the team. It's been great."
Strong day for Hicks
Linebacker Jordan Hicks had an impressive practice Friday, stripping the ball from Alexander Mattison to force a fumble before intercepting a Cousins pass in the end zone. Hicks also deflected another pass before Dan Chisena came down with the ball.
Hicks' interception of Cousins was one of two the quarterback threw in a red zone period on Friday; Cameron Dantzler also picked off a pass behind Cousins' target near the left sideline. Cousins, though, hit impressive downfield strikes to K.J. Osborn and Chisena, on a day where the first-team offense moved the ball effectively in a team period against the second-team defense.
Practice moved up
Because of storms in the forecast, the Vikings changed their practice schedule on Saturday, putting their walkthrough and practice into one session.
Instead of holding their walkthrough from noon to 12:45 p.m. and coming back for practice from 2:15 to 4:15, the Vikings will hold their walkthrough and practice from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.