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.


Bucs have the Percy antidote

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Percy Harvin Updated: September 16, 2011 - 8:49 AM

Eyes were raised in July when the Bucs gave punter Michael Koenen a six-year, $19.5 million deal with $6.5 million in guaranteed money.

But there's definitely some added value for a strong punter who's also a great kickoff specialist. Those who disagree, go back and watch Percy Harvin's season-opening return for a touchdown in San Diego.

If the Vikings choose to use Harvin on kickoffs in Sunday's home opener against the Bucs, chances are Koenen simply boots the ball out of the end zone or so deep that even Harvin wouldn't bring it out.

Koenen, the former Falcon, had 106 touchbacks from 2005 to 2010, third most in the league. And that was when the ball was kicked off from the 35-yard line. In 2010, the Falcons led the NFL in opponents' average starting position (22.2-yard line).

With kickoffs now at the 35-yard line, Koenen kicked deep three times in last week's loss to Detroit. All three were touchbacks. He also had an onside kick late in the game.

Harvin had just the one opportunity. After that, the Chargers either kicked away from him or the Vikings inserted Lorenzo Booker, figuring he'd have a better chance of getting an opportunity to return the ball.

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