As the Vikings hit the road for the first time in the preseason on Saturday, general fan displeasure toward the quarterback is expected to shift from third-stringer Christian Ponder to presumed regular-season starter Matt Cassel.
But Cassel doesn’t sound worried or eager to prove anyone wrong as he prepares to play at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since he was released by the Chiefs after the 2012 season.
“I’m excited to go back to Kansas City,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of close family friends there. We enjoyed our time there. My three children were born there. So I’ve got a lot of good memories in Kansas City. It will be fun.”
Cassel, who still has a home in Kansas City, said he has no “ill will” toward the Chiefs.
“I’ve moved on,” he said. “They’ve moved on.”
We’ll see about the latter.
It cost the Chiefs the 34th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft to acquire Cassel, who went 10-5 as an injury replacement for Tom Brady in New England in 2008. After going 10-5 and throwing 27 touchdown passes and seven interceptions during his 2010 Pro Bowl season, Cassel spent the next two seasons going 5-12 with 16 touchdowns, 30 turnovers and one ugly incident in which he was cheered by the home crowd after being injured in a game against the Ravens in 2012.
Focus not on Kluwe
Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer sidestepped a question regarding this week’s settlement of former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s lawsuit against the Vikings.
“You know,” he said, “I’m really excited about playing the Kansas City Chiefs. I’ve been focused on them all week. It’s something that I really haven’t given it much thought. The bottom line is we got a game to play and a season to prepare for.”
Priefer was suspended for the first three games of the regular season because of an anti-gay comment he made to Kluwe in a team setting in 2012. He can reduce the suspension to two games by completing sensitivity training.
While he’s gone, longtime NFL special teams coordinator Joe Marciano will fill in.
“He’s a very knowledgeable coach,” Priefer said. “He’s been successful. … We’ve been trading ideas as we’ve been game-planning those first three ballgames. We just haven’t gotten as far as [Week 3 against] New Orleans yet because it’s a lot of work. But we’re getting there.”
Walsh was 47-for- 50
Priefer said he’s not concerned kicker Blair Walsh is 0-for-2 from beyond 49 yards and missed a 33-yard PAT last week.
“If he was shanking the ball and he was … pushing the ball too far to the right every time, I’d be concerned,” Priefer said. “But he’s hitting the ball well, even in the games. There are just a few things he needs to do with his follow-through, and once we straighten that out [he’ll be OK]. We’ve already gone back and looked at a couple of old game tapes from his rookie year and from last year.”
Priefer said Walsh made 47 of 50 field-goal attempts with no more than one miss from beyond 49 yards in the team practice periods heading into last week’s second preseason game.