Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf
Hey guys, good to be back. Guys are working hard. It’s been good to get back. Good group of guys. They are excited about being back. I’m excited about being back. Hopefully, we are picking up where we left off. We threw a lot of things at them in OTA’s and so far they have done a really good job of retaining a lot of this stuff which is good.
Q: What are the biggest things you want to accomplish in the first few days?
A: We are looking to do a lot of things. We’ve got to find more returners. There are a couple guys we are thinking of but to me you can never have enough, but training camp for us right now is to find and keep building our depth and keep working our fundamentals. Especially these first two weeks, a lot less scheme and a lot more technique. That is the most thing and what is going to carry us through the pre-season. I want the guys to play fast, so getting our system installed and reviewing it and changing the looks and making sure they are ready for any type of look that comes across and that is what we are trying to build the most in training camp.
Q: Dan Bailey didn’t have the best of days yesterday. Anything you can put a finger on as to why he missed some kicks?
A: Yesterday was Day One. It takes a little time for those guys to get their rhythm back, especially if they are not together. When he finished OTA’s, they were doing really well. I think a lot of you guys were at practice and yesterday was Day One. We’ve got two long snappers, so you have to get used to a lot of different things. It wasn’t all on Dan (Bailey). We have to clean up the operation. It is just so early. Ask me again in a week and hopefully I will have a more detailed answer for you.
Q: Matt Wile was pretty open last season saying he had not done a whole lot of holding, is that something he is working, and you envision him holding this season?
A: That’s a great question. He is working that. Reps are going to be his best friend. He’s done a good job this offseason. We gave him a plan before he showed up to training camp and he has followed that pretty well. You can’t ever get enough live reps, that’s the biggest thing. You will notice in practice while our offense and defense are in team, we’ll kind of have our own team with those three guys just to get them more speed reps and get him acclimated to all that stuff. He has come a long way and we are hoping to build on it with him.
Q: How do you view competition between long snappers?
A: It’s so early. It’s going to depend on a lot of things, who’s better in situations. They are both talented long snappers and I said in the spring that we have two NFL long snappers. It’s going to be a good competition. Austin (Cutting) is going to have to work for it and the good thing with Kevin (McDermott) is he’s risen to the competition. Any time you bring somebody in to compete with somebody, all of a sudden, their game steps up big time. He’s done a good job so far.
Q: How much difference is there between two long snappers when they are two NFL caliber guys?
A: No two pitchers pitch the same. It’s almost the same thing. That ball can come different ways, slight angles mean a ton, especially for the holder, the kicker. You would be surprised, there is a lot of differences. They are just very small details. Those are the things we kind of keep looking for and tempo is huge. Building the tempo for the kicker, the holder, the whole thing is what makes a good field goal kicker. All the great ones have tempo to the ball.
Q: Is this a challenging time to be doing that considering Dan Bailey came in late last year?
A: It’s training camp, every team does it. The teams that have the guys that have been together for the longest obviously have the more advantage because they have been together. These guys we just keep building reps and it’s something that will come in a little bit of time, but they need time. It is still just day one and they will get better.
Q: Any idea how you’ll handle the preseason? Will one guy snap one game and the other snap the whole other game or will they rotate in games?
A: Yeah, those are two different ways I have done it in the past. I think it will depend on the game and how many reps each guy is getting per game. For any reason if we kicked, let’s say for example, five field goals in the first quarter or by the beginning of the second quarter, maybe we’ll make a change. We just have to play it by ear, but we definitely have a plan of how many reps I would like each guy to get. I want to keep it fair. That’s the most important thing. Absolutely, that’s huge. Keeping it fair and making sure the guys have equal amounts of reps to compete against each other.
Q: How much do you expect Nate Kaeding to be here during training camp?
A: He has a schedule and he has commitments in Iowa as well. We have kind of built the schedule a little bit with him involved. There will be some days where he is not here and then most of the days when the guys are kicking he will be here. Still on a part time basis like we talked about last spring.
Q: Do you look for someone similar to Marcus Sherels or try and find more of a different skill set?
A: Marcus had definitely been here a long time, I wasn’t here with him, which is kind of good because I am not used to him. I don’t think you try and find one skill set with one guy to kind of match his. I would rather have a variety of different guys that are good at different things, because then we can use them in different situations. I think that keeps opponents guessing because they have to prepare. I know when I game plan against a punt return unit and they have multiple returners, you have to be ready for that. One guy may be good at something so you have to get the guys tuned in to what makes that guy so special and now you might have to cover differently. I would like for us to create that problem for our opponents.
Q: How many returners do you envision giving a shot?
A: As many as we possibly can, absolutely. There are a couple guys who have done it and a couple guys who haven’t done it that are actually getting good at it and I have had guys do that in the past as well. If our defense makes them punt, that’s good. I’ll take that, that’s a good problem to have. Get all those guys reps, get them game reps. Game reps to me, you can’t replicate in practice. We are going to come close because we are competitive and we are running, but game reps are game reps.