The Vikings had 37 minutes left of Tuesday morning's practice scheduled from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. when quarterback Kirk Cousins took his opening snap of a red-zone drill and found receiver Chad Beebe open in the end zone, running toward the pylon.
Beebe's touchdown catch, with cornerback Mackensie Alexander the nearest defender, was all coach Mike Zimmer needed to see on the field as he called for the team to huddle up and cut short the Vikings' first of three practices in this week's mandatory minicamp.
Cousins threw two touchdowns on his final two throws, ending an earlier drill with a slant fired to receiver Justin Jefferson, who outran defenders in the non-padded practice and dove into the end zone.
Quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Jake Browning also threw scores on their final passes of the morning. Browning ended a prolonged, 14-play hurry-up drill with a scrambling toss to tight end Brandon Dillon as the buzzer sounded over the practice fields at TCO Performance Center in Eagan. Mond, the rookie third-round pick, floated a pass over a defender to tight end Shane Zylstra on a corner route in the back of the end zone to end his own red-zone session.
Here are some more quick observations from mandatory minicamp, which marks the Vikings' final practices of the spring this week.
— The Vikings had 86 of 90 players on the field, with three cornerbacks — Jeff Gladney, Kris Boyd, and Tye Smith — as well as kicker Riley Patterson not spotted. Three players were limited without helmets in defensive end Danielle Hunter, linebacker Chazz Surratt and cornerback Cameron Dantzler, who has been held out of all four spring practices open to reporters. The second-year corner has had a wrap on his upper right leg.
— Taking the practice field for the first time since September, when he was still attempting rehab on his injured neck, Hunter wore a visor and mostly watched his teammates upon rejoining them with a reworked contract. Nearly eight months removed from neck surgery, Hunter walked through some defensive line drills but was otherwise a spectator.
— Two others, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and cornerback Bashaud Breeland, had helmets and ran through some drills, but did not participate in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 sessions. Breeland is being eased back into the mix following offseason shoulder surgery, while Richardson, who just signed his one-year deal on Tuesday morning, said he's "not doing too much during minicamp, just getting accustomed to the playbook again. They're looking out for me. I'm getting back into football shape."
— The starting offensive line remained unchanged, with tackle Rashod Hill holding down the left side and veteran guard Dakota Dozier sticking on the right side. First-round rookie Christian Darrisaw, who underwent surgery in January on his groin and has been held out for parts of this spring, participated in three plays at a time as the second-team left tackle before rotating out.
— Something you don't see every day: tackle Blake Brandel got some work as the second-team center when Darrisaw participated in 11-on-11 drills. When Darrisaw left, Brandel moved back to right tackle (with Oli Udoh at left tackle). Guard Dru Samia was pulled from the second-team line when Darrisaw played, with center/guard Mason Cole switching between both positions. Third-round rookie Wyatt Davis was the second-team right guard.
— With five corners — Breeland, Gladney, Dantzler, Boyd, and Smith — either gone or limited, second-year corner Harrison Hand remains a busy man this spring. He again took first-team reps, this time as the outside corner opposite Patrick Peterson when Mackensie Alexander was in the slot; Alexander remained the No. 2 outside corner in the base defense. Teammates cheered Hand when he deflected a Browning pass to tight end Irv Smith Jr. in 7-on-7 passing drills.
— Depth at tight end will be a position battle to watch come training camp as multiple tight end sets appear to remain a fixture in first-year coordinator Klint Kubiak's offense. Behind Smith and Tyler Conklin on Tuesday, both Brandon Dillon and Shane Zylstra caught touchdowns while rookie Zach Davidson had a Mond pass sail through his fingertips and later slipped on a route in team drills.
— The No. 3 linebacker is another top competition, one that is apparently led by the second-year Troy Dye. The Vikings have also mixed in veteran Nick Vigil, the former Bengals linebacker who signed a one-year deal this spring, as well as the second-year Cameron Smith, who missed his rookie season to heart surgery. Dye had blanket coverage on Dillon to force an incompletion on Browning's second-to-last pass of the hurry-up drill. But Dillon followed up with the touchdown catch when he cut off his route to find the open space for a scrambling Browning.