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.


Rookie could have punter job 'Locke-d up' by Monday

Posted by: Updated: May 3, 2013 - 1:46 PM

 

Shortly after drafting left-footed punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round last weekend, General Manager Rick Spielman insisted the move was made to bring in competition for eight-year vet Chris Kluwe and not necessarily to replace him immediately.
“When we’re making decisions, we’re purely making them in trying to bring in the best competition possible regardless of position,” Spielman said. 
But that so-called punter “competition” may end this weekend with only Locke on the practice field for rookie mini-camp.
As a reference point, after drafting kicker Blair Walsh in Round 6 in 2012, Spielman closely tracked Walsh during the team’s rookie mini-camp to make certain he could absorb some coaching while handling the pressure of kicking with all eyes on him.
Walsh did just fine. And the day after the rookie mini-camp finished, veteran Ryan Longwell was released.
So read between the lines when coach Leslie Frazier said Friday that this weekend’s monitoring of Locke is “very similar” to last year’s procedure with Walsh.
“We just want to put him in different situations and see how he can respond,” Frazier said.
Because the Vikings' rookie mini-camp was moved indoors due to weather Friday, Locke spent the morning down at Mall of America Field punting with special teams coach Mike Priefer away from any audience. So we have no early eyewitness report on how he kicked.
But assuming he doesn’t suffer an injury or experience a mental breakdown this weekend, he should have the punting job all to himself soon. Maybe as soon as Monday evening.
It’s no surprise Kluwe is already looking ahead to life elsewhere. He will meet with Spielman on Monday and both sides have agreed that if Locke is the preference – and the rookie would sure seem to have the inside track given his draft status – there will be no point in dragging out the break-up.
Cutting Kluwe sooner rather than later would give him greater opportunity to catch on elsewhere. It would also allow the Vikings to provide quick closure to a storyline that could prove controversial and annoying if it’s drawn out too long.

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Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 74 3rd Qtr 3:34
Philadelphia 68
Golden State 51 3rd Qtr
Brooklyn 57
Phoenix 39 2nd Qtr 3:58
Miami 46
LA Clippers 36 2nd Qtr 10:25
Minnesota 29
New Orleans 7:30 PM
Dallas
Nashville 1 2nd Prd :13
NY Rangers 2
Carolina 0 1st Prd 19:51
Chicago 0
Montreal 9:00 PM
San Jose
Virginia 51 2nd Half 5:45
Syracuse 38
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Texas 43
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Northwestern St 51
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Sam Houston St 33
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NC A&T 30
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Delaware State 33
Lamar 30 1st Half 4:12
McNeese State 29
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New Orleans 17
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Stephen F Austin 31
NC Central 0 1st Half 20:00
Savannah State 0
Texas Southern 7:55 PM
Alabama A&M
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Alabama State
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Iowa State
Grambling St 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Boston College 8:00 PM
Virginia Tech
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Ark-Pine Bluff
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NC A&T 58
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Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 60 2nd Half 3:55
Ark-Pine Bluff 65
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Miss Valley St 61
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(1) Connecticut 78 2nd Half 3:30
South Florida 55
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Fairleigh Dickinson 78
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
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St Francis-PA 71
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Houston 12
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(6) Baylor 28
Iowa State 20 1st Half 3:40
Kansas 28
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Memphis 19
Oklahoma 12 1st Half 5:30
Oklahoma St 12
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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 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
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