The punter is a pretty big deal on a team that has a run-oriented, ball-control, field-position-is-vital offense. Rookie Jeff Locke is replacing the best punter in Vikings history, Chris Kluwe, but so far, so good. Actually, on Monday, it was more like so far, so REALLY good. Practicing punts from his own end zone during an 11-on-11 segment of practice, Locke launched a punt about 65 yards in the air, with the wind. A few snaps later, he blasted a punt that caught a tail wind, landed and rolled for about a 90-yarder. “When we’re backed up like that, we’re trying to flip the field so we’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of hang time,” Locke said. “And it always helps when you go with the wind.”
Good throw, good catch, great pick
It was a good throw and an even better catch right up to the point where it became a great interception. During an 11-on-11 segment of practice, Christian Ponder spotted tight end Kyle Rudolph about 15 yards over the middle. Ponder threw the ball even though Rudolph was being tightly covered by middle linebacker Erin Henderson. Ponder threw the ball high enough that only Rudolph, a giant target, could catch it. Rudolph snared the over the linebacker’s head, but Henderson wrestled it away before Rudolph could secure it.
From the podium
Coach Leslie Frazier was having a hard time concentrating on questions from the Mankato Free Press’ Chad Courrier. Turns out it was nothing personal. Just Courrier’s T-shirt, which had a sketch of Da Coach, Mike Ditka, on the front of it. “That shirt keeps throwing me off, man,” Frazier said. “That’s my old coach.” Frazier was one of Ditka’s starting cornerbacks in 1985, the season the Bears won the Super Bowl. As you might know, they called Ditka “Iron Mike” for a reason. “Flashbacks,” Frazier joked while looking at the shirt.
“I haven’t had to run that far in nine years.”
— Long snapper Cullen Loeffler, talking about covering Locke’s 90-yard punt.
• CB Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) missed his third consecutive practice.
• S Mistral Raymond (hamstring) returned to practice after missing two days.
• LB Desmond Bishop (groin) missed his second practice in a row.
• CB Josh Robinson (hamstring) returned to practice after being limited on Saturday.
• WR Greg Childs (knees) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
• LB Nathan Williams (ankle) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Three days out