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.


Locke launches punt 90 yards in practice

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: August 5, 2013 - 6:00 PM

MANKATO -- Don't know if you know this, but the punter is a pretty big deal on a team that has a run-oriented, ball-control, field-position-is-vital, end-zone-challenged 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. A few snaps later, he blasted a punt that caught a tail wind, landed and rolled for about a 90-yarder. Yes, that first numeral is a NINE.

“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 in that situation,” Locke said.

But even the hang time was pretty good, especially on the 65-yarder.

“Both were solid contact,” Locke said. “But it always helps when you go with the wind.”

Quick hits: Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) returned to practice after being limited on Saturday. He appeared to tweak the hamstring during practice, but returned and said afterwards that the hamstring "is not an issue." ... Safety Mistral Raymond (hamstring) returned to practice after missing two days. ... Linebacker Desmond Bishop (groin) missed his second straight practice. ... Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) missed his third straight practice.

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