EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings kicked off training camp Wednesday.

Full-team practices are underway at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan.

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The gates opened at noon. It’s the first time fans were able to watch practice since 2019. And it’s a reminder that fans will be there once the season starts as well. That makes for motivation that was missing a year ago.

“It adds to the energy of practice, having fans here,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “We just broke our quarterback meeting and we talked about how people are giving up vacation time to come watch us practice. I mean, that sums it up right there.”

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The team has some bounce and some optimism. Head coach Mike Zimmer is excited about the team’s many offseason additions.

“I’m excited about this football team,” he said. “I think these guys upstairs have honestly done an unbelievable job filling a lot of the holes that we have. Add guys like Sheldon Richardson, get Michael Pierce.”

In addition to dealing with the heat, the Vikings are dealing with the expectations of an upgraded defense. The players know this is the time to set the tone for the season.

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“You felt the energy in the building this morning, going through the walkthrough, going through meetings,” Cousins said. “Just seeing our team together again, getting caught up on how our summers were. Again, it has a different feel than last year because we had OTAs, and so we had meetings and practices and built a foundation already.”

Mike Max