The Vikings held their first padded practice Monday afternoon and will have another Wednesday.
CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin was on-site at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center Monday and made five practice observations, starting with "Justin Jefferson at top speed." Benjamin wrote:
No surprise, but the Vikings most explosive weapon is still lightning fast. The wide receiver's listed weight (195 pounds, down from 202 entering the NFL) may be a technicality, but he might be bursting off the line quicker than ever before. After showcasing a glitzy necklace during the morning walk-through, Jefferson showcased his separation skills in [1-on-1] drills.
It's clear, from his own swagger and teammates' respect, he's become the face of the franchise at just 23, even with fan favorites like Adam Thielen and Harrison Smith still in town.
Benjamin then looked at new Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's impact on the Vikings, calling it "The O'Connell Effect."
Several Vikings have already hinted that Mike Zimmer's departure as head coach will lead to a more contemporary offense, with less conservative leaning on the run and more explosive passing. Others echoed the sentiment when discussing Kevin O'Connell's influence, coming from the Rams. [...] O'Connell, as expected, was heavily involved with the offense at practice, matching new [Offensive Coordinator] Wes Phillips in visible input.
Benjamin pointed out that while Dalvin Cook remains Minnesota's dominant starter at running back, Alexander Mattison also received some reps with the 1s on Monday, and the defense showed "a veteran touch" with the likes of Za'Darius Smith, Patrick Peterson and Eric Kendricks.
As far as quarterback, Benjamin said Kirk Cousins was "on point."
[Cousins and Kellen Mond] finished the day on high notes. Cousins had pretty deep balls in two-minute drills, including a last-second touchdown, to fire up the offense. And Mond, a 2021 third-round pick, got most of the No. 2 reps ahead of Sean Mannion after spending almost his entire rookie season inactive.
PFF highlights teams' 'best value free agent contract' over past 10 offseasons
Every spring and summer, teams across the NFL seem to find impactful players at bargain prices.
Sometimes it's immediately clear the signing was of great value, and other times it's proved later on.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently looked at every NFL team's "best value free agent contract" since 2013. When PFF's Brad Spielberger got to Minnesota, he spotlighted quarterback Case Keenum. Spielberger wrote:
Keenum signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Vikings in 2017. He generated 2.55 wins above replacement, which carried a value of $26,615,625. That season, Keenum earned the best PFF grade (81.4) of his ongoing NFL career.
Keenum currently is a backup quarterback behind Josh Allen in Buffalo, whom the Vikings are slated to face in Week 10.
Speaking of the Bills, Spielberger tabbed a 2017 signing for them, as well. Buffalo signed safety Micah Hyde that spring, and he went on to start all 16 games and rack up 82 tackles, five interceptions and 13 passes defensed en route to his first career Pro Bowl nod.
According to Spielberger, Hyde generated 1.326 wins above replacement over four seasons in Buffalo, before signing an extension with the team in 2021.
Hyde nabbed five interceptions again last season, returning one for his first NFL touchdown. Assuming the safety stays healthy, the Vikings will certainly have their hands full come Nov. 13.