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Continued: Vikings' punting battle might be over

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG and DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: May 4, 2013 - 6:50 AM

Well, it’s officially all downhill from here for cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Just kidding, of course, but we did notice that the 25th overall pick makes a nice first impression. In this case, it was an interception in the first one-on-one drill of his first rookie minicamp practice.

“It was just a little press coverage; my type of game,” said the 6-1, 217-pounder known for his physical play. “I kept the receiver in front of me, on my hip. The quarterback threw the ball up. It was a jump ball. And I just picked it off.”

The Vikings, of course, are hoping Rhodes can duplicate that when the competition is tougher than this weekend, where all three quarterbacks and most of the receivers he’s facing are undrafted rookies with little chance of making a 53-man roster.

If that’s the case, the Vikings might have a cornerback grab more than four interceptions for the first time since Brian Williams had five back in 2003.

4. Linebacker balances eagerness with patience.

Michael Mauti, a seventh-round pick out of Penn State, was on the field briefly Friday, participating in walk-through concepts with the defense. But 5½ months removed from surgery to repair his left anterior cruciate ligament, Mauti’s most notable moment was his formal introduction to head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman and the Vikings’ medical staff.

In the middle of ACL rehab for the third time since 2009, Mauti has a goal of being ready to practice when training camp opens. But he’s also trying to control his ambition and admits he’s eager to unite with a staff that has successfully aided the ACL rehabilitation of standouts such as Adrian Peterson and Chad Greenway.

“It’s all about not getting ahead of yourself,” Mauti said. “It’s about knowing where you’re at and having a feeling for your body. I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for that. I know how to push the envelope without going overboard.”

Mauti has worked back to a point of being able to sprint and has transitioned into some light agility work. Having made successful comebacks from ACL injuries twice in college, he said he understands the process more than most.

“I know what to do, when to do it, how to do it,” Mauti said. “I’m getting better at it each time, unfortunately.”

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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 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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