Ryan Ficken enters his 10th season with the Vikings in 2016 and will return as the club’s special teams assistant, working with Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer for the 4th consecutive season. Previously, Ficken worked with the Vikings WRs, assisting WR coach George Stewart from 2009-12.2015 was yet another year where the Vikings special teams units were one of the NFL’s best. For the 2nd time in the last 3 years, the Vikings led the NFL in kick return average. KR Cordarrelle Patterson led the way with a 31.8 kick return average. He also tied for the NFL lead in KR TDs with 2. Patterson is 1 KR TD shy of tying the team career-record (5, Percy Harvin). Patterson was selected as an All-Pro by the PFWA. PR Marcus Sherels continued to be on one the most reliable and elusive return men in the league. Sherels took back his franchise-best 3rd PR for a TD when playing at Chicago (11/1/15). He earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Bears. Since 2012, Sherels only trails Darren Sproles (4) in PR TDs. Since 2013, Sherels leads the NFL in PR average with an 11.4 clip edging out Antonio Brown (11.2) from Pittsburgh.
Ryan Ficken enters his 10th season with the Vikings in 2016 and will return as the club’s special teams assistant, working with Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer for the 4th consecutive season. Previously, Ficken worked with the Vikings WRs, assisting WR coach George Stewart from 2009-12.
2015 was yet another year where the Vikings special teams units were one of the NFL’s best. For the 2nd time in the last 3 years, the Vikings led the NFL in kick return average. KR Cordarrelle Patterson led the way with a 31.8 kick return average. He also tied for the NFL lead in KR TDs with 2. Patterson is 1 KR TD shy of tying the team career-record (5, Percy Harvin). Patterson was selected as an All-Pro by the PFWA. PR Marcus Sherels continued to be on one the most reliable and elusive return men in the league. Sherels took back his franchise-best 3rd PR for a TD when playing at Chicago (11/1/15). He earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Bears. Since 2012, Sherels only trails Darren Sproles (4) in PR TDs. Since 2013, Sherels leads the NFL in PR average with an 11.4 clip edging out Antonio Brown (11.2) from Pittsburgh. The former Gopher has the most 50+ yard punt returns in team history with 5. His 10.2 career PR average is currently 2nd all-time behind Mewelde Moore (10.4). Punter Jeff Locke continues to hold the career net punting average for Minnesota with a 38.7 net average. Locke stopped 23 punts inside the 20 in 2015. As a group, the Vikings ranked 5th best in the NFL with a 5.24 yards per punt return allowed. K Blair Walsh led the NFL with 34 FGs, two of which came as a game-winners; at Chicago (11/1/15) and vs. St. Louis (11/8/15). Walsh has 5 career game-winning FGs. His 34 FGs in 2015 was the 2nd most in team history. In 2015, Walsh connected on 6 FGs of 50+ yards. That was 2nd best in the NFL behind Robbie Gould (7). Since 2012, Walsh leads the NFL with 23 FGs of 50+ yards and has the 3rd most FGs (121). Walsh earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Honors vs NYG (12/27/15) for his 5 FG performance. Rookie CB Trae Waynes led the way with 14 special teams tackles. WR Adam Thielen and LB Jason Trusnik both chipped in with 10.
In 2014, the Vikings special teams were ranked 10th in the NFL by the annual report by the Dallas Morning News. The kick return unit ranked 2nd in the NFL in starting position at the 25.1 yard line. The opponents’ kickoff return average was 4th lowest in the league with only a 20.7 kick return average. Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels continue to be one of the NFL’s most dangerous return tandems. Patterson was tied for 6th in the NFL, and ranked 2nd in the NFC, with his 25.6 kick return average. Sherels’ 11.0 punt return average was 6th in the NFL and 3rd in the NFC. Sherels’ 10.5 career punt return average is tops in franchise history. Blair Walsh would add 5 FGs of 50+ yards during the season, improving his team-record to 17 career FGs of 50+ yards. Since entering the NFL in 2012, Walsh is tied with Phil Dawson for the most 50+ yard FGs makes with 17. After completing his 2nd NFL season, punter Jeff Locke holds a franchise record with a 38.9 career net punting average. During Week 13 vs. Carolina (11/30/14), the Vikings punt block unit moved into the NFL record books for becoming just the 5th team in NFL history to block 2 punts and return both for TDs in the same game. It was the 1st time in team history with 2 blocked punt TDs and the 1st blocked punt TD since 1986. WR Adam Thielen blocked the first punt and returned it 30 yards for the TD becoming only the 4th Viking to block, recover and score in team history and the 1st since 1973. 2 drives later, LB Jasper Brinkley blocked another punt and DE Everson Griffen scooped up the ball and returned in 43 yards for the TD, the longest blocked punt return TD in team history. Thielen would win NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance. Safety Andrew Sendejo would lead the team with 13 special teams tackles and also set a team record for the longest rush on a fake punt when he gained 48 yards to set up a Vikings TD at Chicago (11/16/14).
In his 1st season as the Special Teams Assistant, 2013 was a record-breaking year. The Vikings showcased the #1 KR man in the NFL, Cordarrelle Patterson, and the #2 PR man in Marcus Sherels. Patterson was named 1st team All-Pro and selected to the Pro Bowl after his record-breaking season. Patterson was also named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September and NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 8 vs. Green Bay. The rookie broke the Vikings single-season kick return record with 1,393 kick return yards, on 43 returns, and a 32.4 return average with 2 KR TDs, leading the NFL in all categories. The 32.4 KR average is 4th highest in the NFL since the 1970 merger and highest since 1985. Patterson tied the team-record with 2 KR TDs (105t, 109t), also leading the NFL. Patterson’s 109-yard KR TD (10/27/13 vs. GB) was the longest kick return in NFL history. With two returns of 105+ yards, Patterson is tied for the most plays over 105 yards in NFL history with Ed Reed and Jacoby Jones. The Vikings average starting position was the 27.2 yard line in 2013. That is the best starting position in the NFL since the NFL moved kick-offs to the 35-yard line in 2010. 3rd year PR Marcus Sherels set the team-record with a 15.2 PR average, good for 2nd in the NFL. Sherels returned 22 punts for 335 yards with a long return of 86 yards for a TD against the New York Giants (10/21/13), the 2nd PR TD of his career, tying a franchise record. Sherels recorded 119 punt return yards against the Giants, a Vikings record for a single game. Sherels posted 2 returns (86t, 50) over 50 yards in 2013, most in a single-season by a Vikings punt returner. With 4 50+ yard punt returns in his career Sherels is tied for the franchise high. Rookie punter Jeff Locke turned it on late and set the team rookie-record with a gross average of 44.2 yards per punt. His 39.2 net average ranked 3rd in team history. Blair Walsh set the franchise record with his 12th career 50+ yard FG (9/29/13 vs. Pit), passing Ryan Longwell in only his 2nd NFL season. His 12 consecutive 50+ yard FGs was also an NFL record. By connecting on 4 50+ yard FGs in 4 consecutive games (12/16/12-9/8/13), Walsh set an NFL record for most consecutive games with a FG over 50 yards. Walsh was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 12 at Green Bay after going 4-4 on FGs and recording 5 touchbacks.
The 2012 Vikings battled injuries to the receiving corps throughout the season but helped 2nd-year QB Christian Ponder’s development as a passer as the team went 10-6 to earn a Wild Card playoff berth. Leading receiver Percy Harvin missed the final 7 games of the season with injury but hauled in 62 receptions in the opening 9 games for a 6.9 reception per game average. Veteran Michael Jenkins ranked 3rd on the club with 40 catches and rookie Jarius Wright emerged as a threat after Harvin was sidelined. Wright snared the Vikings season-long catch with a 65-yarder vs. Green Bay (12/30) in the regular season finale and reeled in a 54-yarder on his 1st NFL catch vs. Detroit (11/11). His 54-yarder ranks behind only Adrian Peterson (60t) in Vikings history for the longest 1st catch of a players’ career.
In 2011, Percy Harvin set career highs in receptions with 87, receiving yards with 967, and tied a career high with 6 receiving touchdowns. His 87 receptions was also ranked 6th in the NFL. First year wide receiver Devin Aromashodu also made 2011 a season to remember, setting career highs in receptions with 26 and receiving yards with 468.
Second-year receiver Percy Harvin improved on his rookie season in 2010. At just 21 years old, he became the youngest player in franchise history to lead the team in receiving with 871 yards on 71 catches and 5 TDs.
In 2009, WRs Sidney Rice and Harvin had breakout seasons for the Vikings. Both players were honored as Pro Bowlers and Harvin became the 2nd Viking in 3 seasons to be named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Rice developed as a playmaker and became only the 3rd Vikings’ WR to post a 1,300-yard receiving season. Harvin tied for the NFL lead among rookies in receptions and yards and ranked 2nd in team history with 60 catches as a rookie.
In 2007 and 2008, the Vikings RBs were able to showcase their skills and combine the talents of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. In 2008, Peterson led the NFL with 1,760 yards rushing and Taylor led all NFL RBs with 25 catches on 3rd down. Peterson became the 1st Vikings RB to lead the NFL in rushing and Taylor’s 45 catches were a career high.
The 2007 Vikings offense ranked #1 in the NFL in rushing offense. Peterson had a legendary rookie year, including breaking the NFL’s single game rushing record after going for 296 yards against San Diego on 11/4/07 and earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Peterson finished with 1,341 yards, 12 TDs and was named the Pro Bowl MVP.
Ficken served as an offensive graduate assistant with UCLA in 2006. He worked extensively with Jim Colletto and the offensive line. Ficken broke down opponents’ game film, gave opponent reports to the offensive staff and coached the defensive scout team.
Prior to his work with the offense, Ficken was a graduate assistant in the football operations department where he acted as the NFL scout liaison and tracked opponents’ personnel during games. He was as an assistant to the recruiting coordinator, playing a big part in the 2006 recruiting class that ranked in the top 10 nationally. From 2004-2005, Ficken was a volunteer coach at UCLA, focusing primarily on the defense and the secondary.
Ficken earned his bachelor’s in business administration from ASU. He was a member of the Sun Devils football team for 2 seasons and received the Scholar-Athlete Award and was a member of Gamma Beta Phi, the National Scholastic Honor Society.
Ficken is currently finishing graduate school to obtain his masters in comparative education at UCLA. Ficken and wife, Andrea, reside in Eden Prairie with their son, Wyatt.
1998-99 Arizona State University // WR
2004-05 UCLA // Defensive Assistant
2006 UCLA // Offensive Assistant
2007-08. Minnesota Vikings // Assistant RB
2009-12 Minnesota Vikings // Assistant WR
2013- Minnesota Vikings // Assistant ST