News | Minnesota Vikings – vikings.com

Vikings Continuity on Special Teams a 'Huge Plus' During Unique Offseason

EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf is thankful for continuity on Minnesota's special teams heading into 2020.

The Vikings retained all three specialists – kicker Dan Bailey, punter Britton Colquitt and long snapper Austin Cutting – from 2019. This season will mark the first time all three positions carried over since the 2016 offseason.

Maalouf spoke with Twin Cities media members via video conference Wednesday and pointed out that Colquitt didn't even sign with the Vikings until one week before the 2019 regular season.

"For him and Austin and Dan to come together as fast as they did, having two really good pros, I think that's a huge plus," said Maalouf.

Bailey and Colquitt bring 19 combined NFL seasons of experience to the group.

Consistency on a roster always is beneficial; the advantage is amplified, however, during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled minicamps and Organized Team Activities and forced teams to rely on virtual meetings.

"There's so much uncertainty now, so for us to have those three guys that have worked together before is a tremendous plus for us," Maalouf said. "When [Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman] and I spoke in the offseason, hopefully about getting these guys to be Vikings for a while, I don't think this was the year to experiment with getting different bodies in here – and let's face it, I didn't want any different bodies."

View the top photos of Vikings K Dan Bailey from the 2019 season.

The trio of Bailey, Colquitt and Cutting combined to be one of the league's best on field goals and extra points.

Bailey made 27 of 29 field goals (93.1 percent), including his final 19 regular-season attempts and three in the postseason. He was good on 40 of 44 extra points (90.9 percent).

Colquitt also worked well with Cutting on the punting unit. He finished his first campaign in Minnesota with a gross average of 45.2 yards on 59 punts with no touchbacks. He also set Vikings single-season record for net average at 42.6.

"I want those three guys to stay together," he added. "Dan had an unbelievable year last year, and hopefully we can keep building on that. Same with Britton. I was impressed with Austin's rookie year. There's only room for him to get better, as well."

Players largely are spread out around the country and haven't been able to meet in-person. Maalouf is confident, though, in the work they're doing on their own – whether it is at a local high school stadium or open field.

"I know Britton Colquitt's got a field, literally, like a shared common field with neighbors in between his house in Florida, so he's been kicking there, he's been punting out there," Maalouf said.

View the top photos of Vikings P Britton Colquitt from the 2019 season.

Fortunately for the Vikings, stability on special teams extends beyond kicker, punter and long snapper.

Maalouf specifically highlighted the leadership of core special teamers Ameer Abdullah, Kris Boyd, C.J. Ham and Eric Wilson.

"All of those guys are back," Maalouf said, "[so] our biggest thing right now is making sure we get these rookies caught up. I think that's probably the most important thing, understanding the system and expectations of what the guys last year created."

The carryover of veterans who have filled special teams roles is important in helping the young players understand – and embrace – their initial responsibilities on the team.

Maalouf uses Abdullah as an illustration for rookies, pointing out that he hadn't previously held a core role on special teams for Minnesota but last season was called upon as more than just a kickoff returner.

"I use him as an example of someone who really bought in to what we were trying to teach. For Ameer to be a running back but to also play what a typical defensive safety would play is really special," Maalouf explained. "And I think that opened up their eyes. Especially since we would review a lot of film from last year, and I'd point out certain guys that are contributing."

He added that rookies can see established starters like Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr or Kyle Rudolph participating in special teams drills and understand expectations.

"The best thing you can really do is just kind of show that to them on the film that we're watching and recapping from last year," Maalouf said. "Harrison Smith on kickoff and all the guys that have contributed. Anthony Harris. When they see Anthony Harris was a [personal protector] last year, they're like, 'OK, that's a starter. I've got to figure that out.' It's been really good."

View photos of the Vikings 2020 coaching staff.

He added that rookies can see established starters like Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr or Kyle Rudolph participating in special teams drills and understand expectations.

"The best thing you can really do is just kind of show that to them on the film that we're watching and recapping from last year," Maalouf said. "Harrison Smith on kickoff and all the guys that have contributed. Anthony Harris. When they see Anthony Harris was a [personal protector] last year, they're like, 'OK, that's a starter. I've got to figure that out.' It's been really good."

Advertising