Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Redskins kicker shuffle presents challenge for Vikings special teams

Posted by: under Quarterbacks, Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Leslie Frazier, Vikings special teams Updated: October 11, 2012 - 2:38 PM

The Vikings special teams will be dealing with a bit of an unknown this week in Redskins kicker Kai Forbath, who was signed Wednesday to replace the struggling Billy Cundiff.

Forbath was touted as one of the best kickers coming out of college last year but went undrafted in 2011. He was picked up by the Cowboys but put on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list with a quadriceps injury last season.

Forbath was in camp with the Buccaneers this preseason but ultimately couldn’t beat out Connor Barth for the placekicking job there. So now the Redskins will give him a look.

Preparing for Forbath will be a bit of a challenge. Even during his standout career at UCLA, Forbath only kicked field goals and didn’t handle kickoff duties.

“[We’ve got] no tape on him from last year because he was injured,” Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. “And he had nine kickoffs and five field goals that I’ve studied from the preseason.”

So what’s the added challenge for Priefer this week?

“It’s different,” he said. “Because you’re always trying to figure out tendencies and those sorts of things. But there’s really not enough tape on him to show any tendencies. Plus, he was kicking for a different team too when we did study the tape. So it will be a unique situation.”

Priefer’s special teams also face another unique twist this week: this will be the Vikings’ first true outdoor game during the regular season.

Said Priefer: “It’s wind, weather, where to align our returners if there’s a cross wind. How do we punt? How do we set up Marcus [Sherels] on punt returns? Those sorts of factors come into play.”

Current forecasts are predicting a 73-degree day with winds up to 13 miles per hour.

Go for it

The Vikings’ final touchdown in last week’s 30-7 win over Tennessee – a 15-yard toss from Christian Ponder to Kyle Rudolph – was one the head coach didn’t necessarily want. Leslie Frazier was content running the ball and milking the clock until offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave pushed to run a passing play with a promise that it would produce a score.

Musgrave explained his urging Thursday.

“We were staying on the gas at that point,” Musgrave said. “That’s just a little bit of our philosophy. We want to stay on the gas until someone tells us to get on the brake.”

No big deal

As for Ponder’s first interception of the season – also in the direction of Rudolph – Musgrave was OK with the decision to throw the pass. Unfortunately, with Ponder rolling hard to his left, the pass sailed a bit high and outside for Rudolph.

But in principle, Ponder’s mistake wasn’t troubling.

“We thought it was a good example of the scramble drill, which we practice weekly and emphasize with our young quarterbacks,” Musgrave said. “Because they do have good movement skills. He flushed out to the left. Everybody worked in his direction. He had a couple options there. He just missed his target. I think he probably didn’t have small enough of a target where he wanted to aim to with Kyle. At times, quarterbacks just throw it for the sake of throwing it. But if he can be a little more accurate, we come up with a really big play there at the end of the first half.”

Fusco faring fine

Musgrave had positive reviews of right guard Brandon Fusco, who has held up well

“He can really bend for a big guy, stay on his feet and finish blocks,” Musgrave said. “The more experience [he gets] and the more various looks he’s exposed to, the more he’ll develop and not be as surprised by as many things.”

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Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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