View the best photos from the Vikings team photographers of special teams in 2019.
EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings endured an offseason of change in 2019, only to see the special teams operation flourish during the regular season.
Veteran Dan Bailey was brought back after spending 14 games with Minnesota in 2018, but he had competition in August when the Vikings made a trade to acquire kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik. Bailey eventually won the kicking job and had one of the best seasons of his career.
Punter Britton Colquitt wasn't even with the Vikings in training camp, as he was added to the 53-man roster in early September after being released from the Browns. Colquitt took the spot of Matt Wile, who was with the Vikings in 2018, and had one of the top seasons for a punter in franchise history.
Minnesota also had a new long snapper for the first time since 2014, as the Vikings used their 12th and final pick of the 2019 NFL Draft to select long snapper Austin Cutting out of the Air Force Academy. Cutting won the camp competition against veteran Kevin McDermott.
The trio of Bailey, Colquitt and Cutting combined to be one of the league's best on field goals and extra points, while the snapper and punter also worked well on the punting unit.
Minnesota primarily used running back Ameer Abdullah as a kick returner in the first season under Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf. Abdullah compiled 13 of Minnesota's 17 total kickoff returns.
There was a seemingly rotating door at punt returner, however, after Chad Beebe began the season in that role but was injured in Week 3 and missed the rest of the season.
That led the Vikings to re-sign Marcus Sherels, the best punt returner in team history, for a three-game stretch. But with Mike Hughes fully recovered from an ACL injury, the Vikings released Sherels as Hughes took over those duties.
But that wasn't the last Vikings fans saw of Sherels, who returned for the postseason run after Hughes went on Injured Reserve with a neck injury.
Minnesota did not allow a special teams touchdown in 2019, but the Vikings also did not find the end zone in the third phase of the game.
View the top photos of Vikings K Dan Bailey from the 2019 season.
Bailey was red-hot in the second half of the season and the playoffs, making his final 22 field goal attempts.
The veteran started his streak in Week 8 against Washington when he made all four field goals. Bailey promptly earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after that performance.
Bailey also connected on his final 19 regular-season field goals, and then added three more makes in the playoffs.
The Vikings blocked just one punt in 2019, but it came on the first attempt of the season.
Linebacker Eric Wilson raced up the middle and blocked Matthew Bosher's attempt, with the Atlanta punter driving his foot straight into Wilson's facemask.
Although his visor was a little bloody, Wilson set the tone early on as the Vikings cruised to a 28-12 victory over the Falcons in Week 1 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Made 27 of 29 field goals (93.1 percent) and 40 of 44 extra points (90.9 percent); had 66 touchbacks on 87 kickoffs (75.9 percent)
Gross average of 45.2 yards on 59 punts with no touchbacks, set Vikings single-season record for net average at 42.6; one kickoff for 63 yards (after a safety)
132 total snaps: 29 field goals, 44 extra points and 59 punts; recorded two solo special teams tackles
Six punt returns for 33 yards (5.5 average) with a long of 15; one kickoff return for nine yards
14 punt returns for 104 yards (7.4 average) with a long of 23
13 kickoff returns for 325 yards (25.0 average) with a long of 38
Seven punt returns for 46 yards (6.6 average) with a long of 15; one kickoff return for 13 yards
Two kickoff returns for 33 yards (16.5 average)
One punt return for nine yards
2 Highest highs
1. Bailey was one of the league's most consistent kickers in 2019, and he was recognized on three separate occasions by winning the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.
He won after making four field goals and a pair of extra points in Week 5 against the Giants, and he added another award in Week 8 against Washing with four more field goals and an extra point.
Bailey then hit all four field goal tries in Week 15 against the Chargers, adding three extra points along the way.
Bailey's field goal percentage of 93.1 ranked fourth in the NFL in 2019. Bailey also made all three attempts from at least 50 yards.
2. Colquitt was one of the final players added to Minnesota's roster, joining the Vikings in the days leading up to the 2019 season opener.
But the easy-going specialist gave off a great vibe in the locker room, as teammates immediately began wearing the muscle shirts he ordered. Colquitt's locker also became a popular spot to inquire about his vast stuffed animal collection.
The punter performed on the field, too, as he did not record a single touchback during the regular season, and helped steady the field goal and extra point operation with his holding ability.
The Lowest low
Minnesota couldn't generate much in either return phase. The Vikings averaged 22.4 per kickoff return, which ranked 16th in the NFL, while Minnesota's punt return average of 6.8 yards per punt return ranked 21st.
The Vikings did not record a special teams return touchdown for the third straight season after having three such scores in 2016.
"We did a lot of experimenting and stuff in training camp by moving guys around and trying different things. But the crew and group of guys I ended up with, I couldn't ask for anything more. They're both pros on every level and make my job easy."
— Bailey on the Vikings special teams operation in 2019