EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer mentioned at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine that he wanted to hire a kicking coach to help one of the most specialized positions in the sport.
Roughly three months later, former NFL kicker Nate Kaeding stood on the practice fields of Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center Wednesday and worked with current Vikings kicker Dan Bailey.
Zimmer was asked about Kaeding on Wednesday afternoon during his media session at the Vikings Team Up to Give Back community event and said Kaeding’s role is part-time.
“We talked to him, brought him in for a couple days. I asked him what he thinks is important with kickers,” Zimmer said. “I feel like it’s important that these specialists have someone who has been there and done that and can kind of watch the minute, little things that go on with the kicking game, whether it be the hold or the placement of the ball or when the snap is coming, just all these different things. I think it will be a good resource.”
Zimmer said former Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway brought up the idea of bringing on Kaeding, who teamed with Greenway at Iowa in 2003.
Kaeding, a third-round pick by the Chargers in the 2004 NFL Draft, ranks ninth all-time with a field goal percentage of 86.2. He made 181 of 210 career field goals over a nine-year career.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf said Kaeding has been a welcome addition to practices.
“I’ve known him from playing against him over the years. He has done a really nice job as a kicker,” Maalouf said. “I’ve gotten to know him on a personal level because we know some mutual people at Iowa. He is another set of eyes.
“He has done a real good job so far of communicating with players and making sure everybody is on the same page. I think it is really important that we are all talking the same language,” Maalouf added. “He is somebody I could send with the specialists, and I can concentrate of other aspects, as well as the specialists.”
Zimmer said he isn’t sure how Kaeding’s role will evolve, but noted the Vikings anticipate he will be around in training camp. Kaeding, who still lives in Iowa, has been commuting to the Twin Cities.
“He’s coming a couple days a week and gets the chance to watch these guys. But he’s sending video back and communicating with email and video and things like that,” Zimmer said. “You have to have someone that really wants to do it, too. He was very adamant he wanted to do this.
“When I was in Dallas, we had a guy that did it, but he was also breaking down tape and things like that,” Zimmer later added. “It’s not that involved right now. You never know where it ends up leading to.”
Bailey is entering his first full season in Minnesota. He made 21 of 28 field goals in 14 games with the Vikings in 2018.
Bailey, who ranks fifth all-time with a field goal percentage of 86.6, made all seven of his field goal tries in Wednesday’s practice.
“I actually talked to Dan Bailey today and asked how it was going with Nate,” Zimmer said. “It’s still early in the process, but he felt like it was good to have somebody there to talk about certain things with and look at the real specific part of that position.
“Then he made all the field goals today, so that was good,” Zimmer added with a smile.