Notebook: Specialists Answer, Raise Intriguing Questions

EAGAN, Minn. — The discussion at Verizon Vikings Training Camp centered on special teams again Tuesday.

It’s been that kind of a week at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

Minnesota traded to acquire unique kicker/punter Kaare Vedvick on Sunday and released veteran long snapper Kevin McDermott.

After not having kicks in the team practice schedule Monday, the roles of specialists were focal points.

Dan Bailey made all seven kicks (four extra points, three field goals) during team periods, with Chad Beebe holding and Austin Cutting snapping for all of them.

“He kicked the ball well today, I thought,” Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. “It looked like the operation was good. Good holds, good snaps.”

Asked if it was Cutting’s best day of camp, Zimmer said, “I don’t know. One snap was down by the knees on a punt. I couldn’t tell on all of them. I’d have to look at the tape.”

And as for Vedvick’s day that included punts and kickoffs, including one that hit the back line of the end zone for a touchback, Zimmer said, “I saw him kick off pretty deep in the end zone. I saw him hit some high punts. That’s about all I can tell you.”

Bailey and punter Matt Wile, who has stitches in his thumb from a cut he suffered in the preseason opener, spoke to media members on Tuesday.

“There’s no need for panic or anything on this end,” Bailey said. “I mean, it’s just a matter of getting the whole operation going in a good rhythm, cleaning up little things on my end specifically and then just trying to build off that. I think we’re headed in the right direction. Today was a good indicator of that. I felt like we had a good day as a unit. You just have to move forward and do your best.”

Wile said his injury is “just kind of a freak thing that happened on the sideline, and it happened right before the first punt, just sliced my thumb open.”

“We put a little gauze on it real fast, ran out there for that first punt, and then we had to go to the locker room afterwards to stitch it up,” Wile added.

In the meantime, Beebe has been handling the holding duties.

Bailey said Beebe is “as-advertised” with all-around athleticism and the ability to “pretty much do a little bit of everything.”

“More than anything, his attitude about the whole thing has been fantastic,” Bailey said. “I mean, he very much just has the attitude of, ‘What can I do to help?’ He’s been coming out early with us before practice, and I know he’s got tons of responsibility on offense, but it’s been good to kind of get a couple of days now working with him, and we’ll see how it goes moving forward.”

The veteran kicker said he spoke with Cutting on the way off the field and believes that the unit has time to get the rhythm down.

How the Vikings utilize Vedvik remains unknown.

Zimmer declined to elaborate on the plan and said “maybe” when asked if having a kickoff specialist/punter and a field goal specialist is possible.

“You know, if we keep one guy, then that’s another guy on the roster, so you just have to see how it all shakes out,” said Zimmer, adding that it would be difficult for one person to have the dual kickoff/punting role.

“I mean, we’ve got to put him in those situations to see what he can do,” Zimmer said.

Vedvik’s background makes it seem like the Vikings could take a look by Sunday when the Vikings host the Seahawks.

View images from the Vikings training camp practice on August 13 at TCO Performance Center.

LB depth impressing Zimmer

Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks have become well-known across the league, with Barr making four consecutive Pro Bowls and Kendricks leading the team in tackles in each of his first four seasons.

The duo grace the cover of the 2019 Vikings Yearbook.

They may be less recognized coast-to-coast, but Vikings fans are familiar with Ben Gedeon and Eric Wilson. It turns out that Zimmer is pleased with the depth throughout the position group where nine players are vying for what’s often six spots on the 53-man roster.

“I think it’s the best group we’ve had since I’ve been here, depth-wise,” Zimmer said. “There’s a possibility of seven guys [making the roster] and all of them being up on game day.”

After the aforementioned four, the Vikings have Kentrell Brothers and 2018 seventh-round draft pick Devante Downs who have played in multiple games for Minnesota.

Reshard Cliett spent 2018 on the Vikings practice squad. Greer Martini was signed after playing in the AAF, and Cam Smith was drafted in the fifth round in April.

When you get [an undrafted free agent] like Wilson who comes in and plays, and then you draft a couple of guys, [Reshard Cliett] was a free agent. Those guys can all be extra, help us on game days and special teams.”

Zimmer was asked if keeping seven linebackers creates difficulties with roster math elsewhere.

“I don’t know that we’re real deep in the secondary, so that will lend itself to that,” Zimmer said. “We may keep an extra defensive lineman and one less in the secondary. Maybe we keep one less running back? I don’t know. It all will work out.”

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