EAGAN, Minnesota -- The reigning NFC North champion Vikings took the field Tuesday for their final practice of organized team activities (OTAs) before next week's mandatory minicamp. It was a relatively quiet afternoon considering the continued absence of some of the club's biggest names, but that doesn't mean there weren't a handful of stories worth monitoring.
Here's a roundup of key observations from Tuesday's session at TCO Performance Center:
Dalvin Cook curiosity lingers
No one knows quite what to make of the star running back's future, days after the Vikings could've first cut or traded the pricey Pro Bowler to save a big chunk of salary cap space. He remained absent from OTAs as expected, with veteran reserve Alexander Mattison taking all the first-team RB reps and partaking in a TV interview afterward as the tentative face of the position.
Other big names are no-shows
Joining Cook as absentees once again were pass rusher Danielle Hunter and, perhaps most importantly, No. 1 wide receiver Justin Jefferson. There was perhaps no greater missing presence than the latter, whose energy often propels practice at Vikings facilities. Jefferson is eligible for a contract extension and should ultimately command record money after a historic start to his career.
Makeshift WR lineup
With Jefferson absent, Adam Thielen gone and first-round pick Jordan Addison sidelined with an undisclosed injury, Kirk Cousins' starting wideouts Tuesday were K.J. Osborn and Jalen Reagor. The former has eclipsed 50 catches and 650 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons, while Reagor arrived via trade late last offseason after a tumultuous two years with the Eagles.
Neither is concerned about Jefferson's availability. Reagor told CBS Sports he thinks his teammate is "gonna come back even better" and exceed his monster production from a year ago "as long as they don't triple-team him -- and even if they do, I'm pretty sure he'll still do his thing." But both he and Osborn are also primed for more expansive roles as Addison acclimates to the NFL.
"It's really just a new start, a fresh start," Reagor said of his approach, crediting fellow WR Trishton Jackson for his biggest strides. "Me knowing the small nuances of the offense [now] ... I can play every snap if I need to."
Osborn, meanwhile, has adopted a mentorship mentality even at 25, harping on a motto of "each one teach one." It helps, he said, that the offense is entering its second full offseason under the guidance of coach Kevin O'Connell.
"This is not our first time learning it," Osborn said. "We have a rapport with them, and a connection with Kirk, so that makes it that much [better], especially going against this new defense. We're not learning and going against a new defense at the same time."
Brian Flores' dynamic fronts
Speaking of the Vikings' new defense, it was apparent in just a brief stretch of front-seven drills that Flores intends to get aggressive and creative in how he deploys players near the line. Loading the box with sometimes a half-dozen different defenders standing and leaning toward the line as if to rush, he had veterans like Harrison Smith, Jordan Hicks and newcomer Marcus Davenport moving all over -- sometimes blitzing, sometimes dropping and sometimes doing both. An X-factor in the group: second-year linebacker Brian Asamoah, who got lots of first-team reps alongside Hicks in place of departed fan favorite Eric Kendricks.
Situations to monitor
Two key veteran starters, tight end T.J. Hockenson and defensive lineman Harrison Phillips, watched the entirety of Tuesday's practice from the sidelines after opening the day on training bikes. They both appeared in good spirits throughout the session, suggesting they'll be good to see full action come minicamp and training camp.
Solid showing from rookie QB
Kirk Cousins was the early standout of footwork drills, hollering "Boo-ya!" in celebration of his own accuracy on short tosses into a net. But fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall, of BYU, also looked the part for much of the day. He and veteran backup Nick Mullens, who re-signed on a two-year deal this offseason, rotated QB2 reps during 11-on-11 drills later in the day.