EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — One of the most intriguing Vikings position battles of training camp and the preseason was between kickers Kai Forbath and Marshall Koehn.
The veteran ended up winning the job, as Minnesota kept Forbath on its roster last weekend while letting Koehn go.
But Forbath said after Friday's practice that he is undoubtedly a better kicker now than he was at the start of the offseason program, mainly thanks to the competition from Koehn.
"Making kicks is kind of how you stay in this league, so that's what I try to focus on," Forbath said. "Marshall was a great kicker, probably the best competition I've ever faced in camp.
"He made me come out every day and work my butt off. I think that has gotten me even more ready for this season," Forbath added. "I wish him the best, but I'm focused and ready to go."
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer echoed Forbath's thoughts, saying the Vikings got better as a team because of Forbath's performance during the preseason.
"Talking to Kai, that competition really helped him perform at a higher level than he may have performed just by himself," Priefer said. "It was a good summer for those guys.
View photos from Friday's practice at Winter Park as the Vikings prepare for the New Orleans Saints.
"At the end of the day, we felt like Kai hit the ball more consistent, he was going to be the more consistent performer for us," Priefer later added. "Hopefully he can do that and be a good kickoff guy for us, which we feel he can."
Priefer also noted Forbath has improved on kickoffs, an area that was a focal point for the kicker this offseason.
"We feel that Kai can give use those deep, high kicks when we need them, especially indoors," Priefer said. "Kai is pretty good with his specialty kicks, his bag of tricks I like to call them – clubs in your golf bag type thing, even though I hate golf. Well, I'm just terrible at it.
"At the end of the day, though, Kai, we felt, gives us the best chance to win with field goals, PATs and kickoffs this year," Priefer added.
Forbath joined the Vikings midway through the 2016 season and adapted well despite the whirlwind. The former UCLA kicker made all 15 of his field goal attempts.
"It's been a long offseason, and (the season) is finally here," Forbath said. "Preseason takes a while and is slow, but it's finally game week, and we're excited.
"It's been nice getting to know the guys better," Forbath added. "I feel a lot more comfortable this year. Everything happened real quick last year, and I got thrown into it."
Forbath and the Vikings open the season Monday against the New Orleans Saints, a team that Forbath played for in 10 games of the 2015 season.