EAGAN, Minn. – Jordan Berry is looking forward to experiencing a Minnesota summer.
The punter re-signed Wednesday for a second season in purple. The Vikings initially inked Berry just before Week 1 of the 2021 campaign, meaning he missed out on minicamp, training camp and the team's three preseason games.
"It's going to be exciting," Berry laughed. "Obviously I know Minnesota when it's cold, so coming up here when it's warm? It'll be nice to check it all out and get a good look around the city without the cold and the zero-degree weather."
View the best photos of Vikings P Jordan Berry from the 2021 season.
More important than the temps, though, will be the likely opportunity to continue working with kicker Greg Joseph, whom the team tendered on Monday, and long snapper Andrew DePaola – both of whom helped make a return to the Vikings appealing.
"Getting along well with them last year definitely helped my decision. And new coaches coming in, it's pretty exciting, a good vibe around the place," Berry said. "I thought, 'Why not come back?' It's a great opportunity.
"[Having the offseason] is definitely very beneficial," he explained. "Especially with me, DePaola – with getting the snaps down, having that consistency there between us two definitely makes it easier; then, with Greg kicking, having that rhythm. Last year was obviously difficult coming in and just getting two, three sessions in with them to really get synced for Week 1. But now that we've got a full year under our belt and going into this year, it's definitely gonna help a lot with the confidence for all three of us, that we've got guys we know and trust."
DePaola was happy to hear Berry was re-signing, keeping the specialist crew consistent.
The operation may seem simple from stadium seats or a television screen, he noted, but building on chemistry from one season to the next is invaluable in establishing success.
"It really is very huge to just kind of have that extra time," DePaola said. "Not just me to be able to work with Jordan, but for Jordan to be able to work with Greg and say, 'OK, when we're dealing with this type of wind, which way do you like the ball leaned? Do you like it more forward, more back, more left, more right? Do you like the laces pointed at a certain goal post?'
"Just being able to have those extra couple weeks to kind of fine-tune things, it just makes such a world of difference for our job and hopefully leads to a better product on the field on game day," DePaola added.
And this time around, there won't be time for "Minnesota nice."
DePaola noted with a laugh there's always a warm-up period when getting a new teammate.
"When someone gets there Week 1, it's like, everything is just roses and dandy. Like, everything's great. Every snap I had, Jordan was like, 'Oh no, it was perfect. It was perfect,' " DePaola said. "I felt like I could have thrown it over his head or rolled it back to him, and he would have been like, 'Hey, no – it's perfect.' And then even with him, every ball he hit was like, 'Oh, it's a great ball. It's a great ball.' So for the first few weeks, that's kind of how we were getting around each other.
"I would rib Greg because I'd been with him longer and kind of knew what I could and couldn't say to him. But obviously Jordan, you know, we didn't know that yet," DePaola said.
But then one day a few weeks in, Berry had an "off" day at practice.
"I don't know what it was, but he was just not hitting the ball well. And he wasn't talking much, so finally I went up to him and I'm like, 'Hey, why don't you just take a minute, just relax, do whatever you've gotta do.' And he's like, 'I think I'm just gonna do this,' and I told him, 'Well, hey, just to let you know – what you're doing right now? … I mean, it's terrible. You need to do something else.' "
Berry turned to DePaola, looked him in the eyes, smiled and thanked him.
"You know, for the first couple weeks, everyone's just been so nice, telling me I'm hitting a great ball. And you know what? I need the truth. I need, like, 'Hey, you're not doing well. Pick it up. That's what I need,' " Berry told DePaola.
The long snapper's response?
"I said, 'Awesome. I've got plenty of that. I'm your guy,' " DePaola quipped. "I think that was kind of our first introduction into who Jordan was as a player. It was refreshing to kind of break through that layer."
Berry is grateful to have built that camaraderie with DePaola and Joseph, especially as they enter a season under new General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and a brand-new coaching staff under Kevin O'Connell.
"I've spoken with [O'Connell and Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels], as well as Ben [Kotwica], the assistant special teams coach. I had a chat with those three today, and I had a talk on the phone with them Friday prior to coming up here and signing," Berry said. "They're great guys. A lot of knowledge between the three of them, so I'm really excited to get working with them after the course of the summer and getting the season underway.
"All the guys I've spoken to are all pretty excited about coming back and getting the season underway," Berry added. "The energy is quite high having the new coaches coming in. … Bringing them all here with the guys we've got, I think we can be really successful."