Mike Priefer On Tweaking Locke's Game, Relationship With Kluwe, Walsh's Offseason and More

Posted Jun 19, 2013

Jeff Locke

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: What do you think of your new punter?
A: I like our new punter (Jeff Locke), very talented like we knew he was. He’s working very hard. I knew he would be a hard worker, I didn’t realize to this extent. He does everything I ask him to do drill wise and more. He is very contentious. He’s worked very hard as a holder as well so everything is going in the right direction.
Q: Are you making any tweaks with him after watching film?
A: He’s got just a couple things we’re working on with his footwork, taking out some of the wasted motion that he had coming from college. He’s worked very hard at that and we’re definitely seeing some progress. He has to get his get-off a little bit quicker and overall it’s going to make him a more consistent performer and that’s obviously what we’re looking for.
Q: How beneficial is that tape for young guys like that?
A: It’s wonderful and the thing is our video department does a great job, we have a camera available all the time and we’re getting all the individual drills filmed so we can go back and watch them. We spend a lot of time watching that tape. We try not to overanalyze it because he is very intelligent, so I don’t want to overanalyze it, the old paralysis by analysis type deal. He’s done a nice job of just working on one or two things per day so that’s really helped him. It’s been very beneficial for him.
Q: As you were preparing your post-season report from the punting situation last year, how strongly did you feel that you needed to upgrade that spot?
A: Very strongly.
Q: What were those primary factors that you looked at? Was it statistically or anything else?
A: No, it was more consistency and productivity.
Q: Did Chris Kluwe have that potential to bounce back and get by with what you needed or was that a situation where you just needed to find a new punter?
A: I just felt like we needed to make a change there.
Q: How is Cordarrelle Patterson catching it back there?
A: You know, he is so talented and just a great athlete. I think he’s done a great job on just working on some of the little things; keeping his elbows tighter, keeping his hands up, keeping his hands away from his body a little bit; just some of the smaller details. I think he’s more comfortable catching kickoffs right now than punts like a lot of young guys, but we’re making progress in both phases.
Q: How happy were you when they drafted him in the first round?
A: I pulled a hamstring running down the hallway. No, I’m just kidding, I was very happy. Just looking at him on tape, having the ability to be both a punt and kickoff returner, obviously what he brings to our offense, just as a football team. I was very happy with that pick. I was surprised we made the move but I was happy we made the move, it was a great move by Rick [Spielman] and Leslie [Frazier] and I’m fired up we did it.
Q: Before the draft, how much were you telling them, ‘Hey this guy can be a special kickoff and punt returner?’
A: Anytime we had our draft meetings. We do a great job here, our personnel people do a great job. We have plenty of input at least of our opinion and what we thought with our grades. I love the way we do things here and we have a voice. Obviously Rick (Spielman) has to make that final call but we knew that he and Tavon Austin were the two top returners coming out of the draft. We knew Tavon would be gone early so having Cordarrelle where he was and how we picked him and how everything transpired, it was a pretty exciting night for us.
Q: Do you see anything that might hold him back from being able to contribute right away as a returner?
A: No, I don’t think so. You don’t want to overload any rookie because I know he’ll contribute on offense as well but I think the sky is the limit for this young athlete, I really do.
Q: Did Chris Kluwe and you part on good terms?
A: Yeah you know it’s funny, a lot of people like to write and report that he and I didn’t get along but I have a lot of respect for Chris Kluwe, based on what he’s done in his career as a man and as an athlete. For anybody that stands up for what he believes in like Chris did, I have a lot of respect for guys like that. We had a long talk after the draft. He knew the writing was on the wall and I wasn’t going to lie to him, I figured if a young guy came in and had a good rookie mini camp then that was what was going to happen. I wish him the best of luck in Oakland, I really do.
Q: How is Jeff Locke coming with the holding?
A: Great. He held for two years, but he held for a young kicker last year that liked the ball tilted back so we had to break him of some bad habits. He had a great day yesterday for us and Blair [Walsh] hit the ball well, I think he made nine of ten including the two situations. Blair is feeling more and more comfortable with him, and Cullen [Loeffler] is working great. He’s kind of the old veteran, now the leader for our young group. I’m excited about those three working together.
Q: From two years ago when Cullen Loeffler was snapping for Ryan Longwell and Chris Kluwe to now, how much has he had to adjust to his techniques?
A: No I think Cullen is going to do what he does and he is an extremely hard worker as well. He is such a perfectionist. I just admire him for all the work he puts in even at his veteran stage; he doesn’t have to do a lot of stuff. I don’t ask him to do extra work and he’ll do it on his own. He’s done a great job this spring so far. I like the direction we’re going.
Q: Is Blair Walsh even more confident?
A: I don’t want to jinx it but he’s stronger now I feel like on kickoffs and even on field goals. I think a year under his belt, he’s a year older, a year more mature, his body is more mature. He is stronger than he was a year ago. That’s a nice thing to have obviously and he was such a strong guy last year.
Q: How has Joe Webb looked to you as a potential return guy?
A: Joe is a unique athlete. The first day we put him out there on punt return he did a pretty good job just catching the punts. We put him in some reps on kickoff return as well last week. He sees things, he understands things, understands hitting the seam and how to hit the seam, just a different runner than a lot of guys. Such a great athlete though, it’s fun to have him back there.
Q: Where are you overall at the pecking order at punt returner?
A: If we had to play Detroit tomorrow I would think we would put Marcus [Sherels] back there still because I just trust him. I think Marcus now, it’s funny this is year three of him with two years under his belt, and he’s done a great job. Ball security has always been a big thing for me and always will be. I know he had the muff last year in the Packer (playoff) game, which was a tough punt to handle, but he’s done a great job this spring. He has the best hands of the group in terms of catching punts. Right now I would put him at number one.