GREEN BAY, WIS. – Tight end David Morgan had just two weeks’ worth of recent long-snapping practice when Kevin McDermott, who usually handles that duty for the Vikings, went down with a shoulder injury Saturday night.
Morgan, the Vikings’ No. 2 tight end, replaced McDermott in the second half of the Vikings’ 16-0 victory over the Packers and successfully snapped for three Ryan Quigley punts and two Kai Forbath field goals. The former sixth-round pick said he’d never made a long snap in a football game, whether in high school, college or the pros.
“First time ever,” Morgan said. “Last year, we had a couple guys doing it and this year they all left so it was like — hey, we need to you to try to do it, so we started practicing.”
Those practice reps are “nothing too extensive,” Morgan admitted, since losing the long snapper to injury isn’t a common occurrence. McDermott had appeared in all 48 games in three seasons for the Vikings. Before him, Cullen Loeffler missed only five games in 11 seasons.
So five to 10 minutes on Thursdays is generally the time carved out for McDermott to work with the Vikings’ backup long snapper, which until a week ago was tight end Blake Bell. He was placed on injured reserve Dec. 15 because of a shoulder injury. That elevated Morgan to McDermott’s backup.
“It was great. For a guy that never has really done that, definitely not in a professional football game, I thought he did outstanding,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “The first field goal snap was a little shaky. The last field goal snap, to put us up by two scores, was good.”
McDermott, who will undergo an MRI exam on his shoulder Sunday, provided Morgan with some tips once he returned to the sideline after halftime. McDermott said he missed Morgan’s first snap but assisted on the others.
“Just listen, just keep doing what you’re doing,” McDermott recalled. “Nice and easy, throw a catchable ball — and he did. I’m really pumped for him.”
Quigley typically stands 15 yards behind the snapper, but he punted from about 10 yards away to ease Morgan’s snaps.
Morgan’s strong night continued in the second half when he made one of the Vikings’ biggest plays of the game. He picked up 23 yards on a broken play-action bootleg from Case Keenum, who evaded pressure and found Morgan down the sideline. Morgan sidestepped a defender for additional yards.
Morgan’s biggest fans, his parents and siblings, watched it all from the stands at Lambeau Field.
“It was cool. They made the drive last year, made a little tradition of it coming up here for Christmas,” Morgan said. “I’m glad they could be here for that.”