EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings moved forward Monday with their long snapper position determined, explaining an appreciation for veteran Kevin McDermott’s impact during four seasons in Minnesota and the decision to retain rookie Austin Cutting.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the team decided after one preseason game that “we had to get the battery down so we weren’t using two snappers in and out because we’ve got to work on the operations of the field goal and things like that.
“It really wasn’t anything that Kevin did,” Zimmer said. “Kevin was a terrific team guy here, unbelievable person, and it’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Asked a follow-up on what Cutting, a seventh-round pick, did to cement the job, Zimmer said, “A lot of times it’s being younger.
“He’s got a little more velocity,” Zimmer said. “He’s a little bit more athletic. Like I said, Kevin didn’t do anything wrong.”
Even though everyone knew that it would either be McDermott or Cutting for one spot, Cutting said “it’s a rough thing to go through with someone that has taught you so much and has been here for so long.”
“Kevin is a great person. That’s an understatement,” Cutting said. “He’s a really, really good guy, and to be able to learn from him, things on the field, different things for a punt, different things for a field goal and stuff off the field, it’s been a cool experience.”
Cutting’s role seems to be the only thing that’s set among Vikings specialists as training camp heads for its final three practices that will be open to the public. It’s still nearly a month, however, before the regular-season opener against Atlanta on Sept. 8.
Minnesota brought in kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik via a trade with Baltimore on Sunday, but Zimmer said Monday that the plan for the Norway native is still in flux. Matt Wile is the returning punter/holder from 2018, but the Vikings have had Chad Beebe and Adam Thielen hold for kicks this camp.
Wile hasn’t been holding since Friday’s preseason opener because of a cut he suffered in the game, Zimmer said.
“He had stitches. You guys missed it,” Zimmer said.
Asked how long that might affect Wile, Zimmer replied, “I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. However long stitches take, I guess.”
Veteran kicker Dan Bailey joined the Vikings in Week 3 of the 2018 season and re-signed during free agency.
Zimmer expressed his confidence in Bailey on Sunday.
“I really like Dan Bailey. He’s a very professional and mature kid,” Zimmer said. “We have been having some issues with the snap, hold, and kick [process], and having two long snappers is adding to that a little bit because timing is different. The holding, we are working on quite a bit, but I like Dan.”
View images from the Vikings training camp practice on August 12 at TCO Performance Center.
Any action for Dalvin?
The Vikings racked up 213 rushing yards on 27 carries in New Orleans for a whopping average of 7.9 yards per carry, and that was without starter Dalvin Cook playing.
That lofty average was raised thanks to a 64-yard scamper by Mike Boone, who rushed four times for a team-high 70 yards.
Ameer Abdullah added 63 yards on four carries, ripping off a 42-yard run. De’Angelo Henderson rushed seven times for 42 yards, and Alexander Mattison, a third-round pick who started in his pro debut, rushed nine times for 30 yards.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski was asked if he thinks it’s important for Cook to have carries in preseason games, and Stefanski deferred to Zimmer.
“We’ll talk about that,” Stefanski said. “I think we’re getting a ton of great work out here. [Running backs coach] Kennedy Polomalu puts those guys through the paces in their individual period, and that’s something that Coach and I will discuss.”
A roster superlative
For a little bit on Sunday, former Golden Gopher Nate Wozniak locked down two roster superlatives after he was placed on waivers by New Orleans and claimed by Minnesota: newest Viking and tallest player on the team.
The trade for Vedvik stripped him of the first title hours later.
The 6-foot-10 Wozniak, however, is 3 inches taller than fellow tackles Storm Norton and Brian O’Neill. Wozniak, who played tight end at the University of Minnesota, was asked about the challenges of being so tall and playing the position.
“The toughest thing is the pass setting. Being a bigger guy that’s a tight end, run blocking is kind of natural,” Wozniak said. “Being a taller guy, I always have to work on my pad level, but I think pass blocking is one of the tougher things.”