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The ball sailed into the hands of receiver K.J. Osborn. Quarterback Kirk Cousins vehemently pumped his fists in jubilation. When that 11-on-11 period of Thursday's practice ended, Patrick Peterson walked with fellow cornerback Cameron Dantzler. They talked about how to stop that from happening again.

"I got beat on the post by K.J.," Dantzler said after practice. "I was asking him how fast do you think I should [back]pedal out? Because sometimes I be too patient and get beat a little bit, so I was like how should I do it? He was coaching me up, giving me little things I could do to be on top of that."

What did he say?

"Really, you can be patient, but read the quarterback more," Dantzler said. "I'm like, 'OK that makes sense.' He's like, 'Know the [receiver's] release, too.'"

Watching Peterson through Thursday's practice, the lessons from a three-time All-Pro cornerback weren't exclusive to Dantzler. Peterson also had side chats with cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland, Kris Boyd and Harrison Hand throughout the two-hour session.

"A lot of guys can get in the game and they can be a deer in the headlights," Peterson said, "but if you understand what's coming at you, the game will slow down for you. Just like [Thursday], I was talking to Kris Boyd, having him understand the different releases that receivers can give you and he was like, 'Wow, I never looked at it that way.'"

"Understanding if a receiver comes out in a flipped alignment — which is the outside receiver is off the ball and the No. 2 receiver is on the ball — you're going to get either a dagger, China or double slants [route concepts]," Peterson added. "Just things like that so now you just shorten up the menu now versus covering everything. That's some of the things I was telling these guys today. They were like, 'man how do you know that?' Film study."

Here are some other observations from Thursday's practice, held under a hazy and smoky sky at the team's headquarters in Eagan.

  • The same four players — left tackle Christian Darrisaw (groin), center Cohl Cabral (undisclosed), kicker Riley Patterson (undisclosed) and cornerback Jeff Gladney — did not participate. Only Gladney, whose grand jury date in Dallas County was scheduled for Thursday, was not present. Four others – receiver Dede Westbrook (knee), Breeland (shoulder), nose tackle Michael Pierce (calf) and tight end Shane Zylstra (undisclosed) – were limited.
  • Cousins had reason to get hyped during 11-on-11 reps as he rolled out and away from defensive end Stephen Weatherly before dropping a pass into the arms of receiver Adam Thielen along the sideline. The ball was perfectly placed over safety Harrison Smith, who later intercepted Cousins as time expired during a brief red-zone scenario.
  • Osborn was a busy man as the No. 3 receiver through many of the first-team offense's work on Thursday. His highlight was the deep post route caught over Dantzler and safety Xavier Woods. Receivers Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson have also been in the mix. Westbrook, who signed last weekend, is still on the mend and learning the playbook. The ex-Jaguars receiver rehabbed on a side field during team drills while nine months removed from a torn ACL.
  • Linebacker Nick Vigil, the former Bengals linebacker who signed a one-year deal in free agency, has taken the lead in the weak-side linebacker competition. With Eric Wilson gone to Philadelphia in free agency, coaches have rotated Vigil, Troy Dye and Cameron Smith as they sort through their options for the No. 3 linebacker job.
  • Kicker Greg Joseph was a perfect 5 for 5 during the team's field goal period, held on a field where spotting the distance was not achievable from the end zone view. Joseph is the Vikings' lone kicker so far while Patterson, the undrafted rookie, rode a stationary bike while on the Physically Unable to Perform list.