The Vikings put just 42 players on the field for the first day of coach Kevin O'Connell's initial rookie minicamp in Minnesota, keeping their tryout numbers low and the intensity of their on-field work controlled.
The goal, O'Connell said, was to treat the initial session like a "pseudo passing camp," emphasizing skill players and defensive backs instead of trying to draw meaningful conclusions about linemen who were practicing without pads.
Of the 17 players the Vikings brought in for tryouts, just four were offensive or defensive linemen, and only two were linebackers. Instead, Minnesota's list of tryout players followed its intentions for the weekend.
"We tried to keep the numbers a little bit lower than to have the traditional 70, 80 guys when we'd have some team drills and the ball's on the ground a bunch, players are on the ground a bunch," O'Connell said. "What we're doing is those competitive 7-on-7s and kind of turning it into a pseudo passing camp, just to make sure we can get quality reps, we can install some things, and then try to really evaluate guys on both sides of the ball when the ball's in the air.
"Those big guys, we'll try to incorporate something tomorrow within the rules where we can get those guys at least lining up across from one another. Really what we're trying to do is just acclimate these guys overall — where to go in the meetings, where to go in the building, where to eat lunch."
The Vikings planned to take their rookies to the Twins-Guardians game on Saturday night — O'Connell hinted he would be throwing out the first pitch before the game — and will keep their rookies in town to start organized team activities with the veterans on Monday.
Many teams conducted their rookie minicamps last week; O'Connell preferred to wait a week to keep players in town for OTAs, rather than sending them back home.
"I'm not a fan of doing it last weekend, and then you've got to send them home," O'Connell said. "These guys have traveled enough, in my opinion, with the visits and the combine and the different pro days. Get them here, allow them to stay through the weekend and hit the ground running on Monday. The expectation is, if we're counting on you to compete, let's go. Let's roll."
Vikings wanted home game, not bye, after London
The first two times the Vikings played in London — against the Steelers in 2013 and the Browns in 2017 — they took their bye week right after the game. This year, they'll travel to London for a Week 4 matchup against the Saints, but will be back home the following Sunday for a matchup with the Bears.
O'Connell said the Vikings lobbied the league for that schedule.
"Although [the bye] might help in the short term coming off a trip like that, playing 13 games in a row before possibly playing some [playoff] games on top of that, that can be really taxing on these guys," O'Connell said. "So what we wanted to try to do is get the bye a little bit later."
Instead, their bye falls in Week 7.
"We'll do a great job with our sports performance group, listening to the science on how we can make our guys feel great for [the London] game, but then obviously making sure that our players are feeling great for that following week's home game," O'Connell said.
Vikings try out former Packers QB Hundley
The last time the Vikings faced Brett Hundley in a regular-season game, their top-ranked defense shut out the Packers on Christmas weekend at Lambeau Field, scoring a noteworthy victory over their biggest rival on their way to the 2017 NFC North title.
Hundley started nine games for the Packers that season, taking over for Aaron Rodgers at U.S. Bank Stadium in October after Anthony Barr's hit fractured Rodgers' collarbone. The Packers traded Hundley to Seattle before the 2018 season. He threw seven passes for Arizona in 2019 and spent the next two years in camp with the Cardinals and Colts.
The Vikings brought in the 28-year-old quarterback for a tryout on Friday, putting him on the field as one of their two quarterbacks for rookie camp with former University of Washington quarterback Patrick O'Brien.
"I spent a lot of time on [Hundley] coming out of the draft [in 2015]," O'Connell said. "I've always been intrigued by him as a quarterback in this league. He's kind of bounced around, been in some spots, been coached up well, you can tell in the meeting room."
The Vikings have four quarterbacks — Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion and Nate Stanley — on their active roster. The weekend tryout, at least, gives Hundley and O'Brien a chance to make their case for a longer look.
"That's why the tryout guys are here," O'Connell said. "They're here for a reason. That's what I told them. Compete and we'll see how everything shakes out."
Lowe signs rookie deal
Sixth-round pick Vederian Lowe signed his rookie deal Friday morning, putting six of the team's 10 draft picks under contract before the start of rookie minicamp.
Lowe, an offensive lineman out of Illinois, will receive a signing bonus of $197,873 as part of his four-year deal, which is worth a total of $3.86 million. He signed his deal after the Vikings announced five rookie signings — for first-rounder Lewis Cine, fifth-rounders Esezi Otomewo and Ty Chandler, sixth-rounder Jalen Nailor and seventh-rounder Nick Muse — on Thursday.
Only four draft picks (second-rounders Andrew Booth and Ed Ingram, third-rounder Brian Asamoah and fourth-rounder Akayleb Evans) began the Vikings' rookie camp without a contract. Players are not required to be under contract to practice during rookie camp, and can instead sign injury protection agreements in case they get hurt before signing their deals.