The Vikings begin reporting to the first training camp July 24 at the TCO Performance Center in Eagan. The first full-team practice is July 28. Check here for new details on tickets, parking and times.
Before then, the Star Tribune will take a look at each position group. Saturday: Specialists.
On the 90-man roster:4 specialists
Locks:Long snapper Kevin McDermott, punter Ryan Quigley
Good bet:Kicker Daniel Carlson
On the bubble:Kicker Kai Forbath
(+) Drafted kicker Daniel Carlson in the fifth round, trading up 13 spots with Denver to take the SEC’s all-time leading scorer. … Re-signed kicker Kai Forbath to a one-year, $790,000 deal. … Re-signed returner Marcus Sherels to a one-year, $1.4 million contract.
Forbath has made 50 of 57 field goal attempts, including 8 of 11 from beyond 50 yards, since he was brought in to replace Blair Walsh in the middle of the 2016 season. He also accounted for 11 points in the Vikings’ first playoff victory in nearly a decade. So he felt comfortable heading into this summer. But a paltry contract in free agency led to the Vikings’ eventual selection of Carlson.
The Vikings’ first draft pick, cornerback Mike Hughes, could also become an immediate factor on special teams. Hughes was a dynamic punt and kick returner at UCF and could either complement or replace Sherels there.
Will Daniel Carlson signal stability for the Vikings kicker position? It’s possible we won’t know for a few years. Blair Walsh’s All-Pro rookie season seems eons ago given the turnover since. The Vikings made Carlson the NFL’s first drafted kicker and the franchise’s most valuable pick at the position. Forbath has a mammoth task ahead of him to keep his job this preseason.
"I've competed with someone every single year,” Forbath said. “It's no different than last year with Marshall [Koehn] here. Daniel is a good, young kicker. I'm not here to coach him. I'm here to get myself ready for the season. We'll have a good competition."
What you should know
Ryan Quigley and the Vikings’ punt coverage team led the NFL with 33 fair catches forced and were among the best with 29 downed inside the 20-yard line. Both were career-best numbers for Quigley and reasons why the Vikings retained him for the second season of a two-year contract.
18th — The Vikings are anticipating touchbacks to be more critical this season. Changes to kickoff and return rules could give returners more room, so the Vikings want to be better at preventing returns altogether. Forbath’s 50 percent touchback rate ranked 18th in the league. The Vikings’ coverage team wasn’t great. Opponents averaged a 25.5-yard line start after kickoffs, coverage that ranked 25th in the league, according to Football Outsiders.
Kicker — Carlson made more of his field goal attempts during six practices open to reporters. The rookie also made more in all 13 spring practices, according to special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.