Punter Matt Wile’s whirlwind turnaround placed him in Minnesota, where he’ll punt in just his fifth NFL regular-season game for the Vikings on Sunday.
After Wile was released by the Steelers last weekend, he said he took a flight from Pittsburgh to his home state of California and turned right back around to board a flight to Minneapolis on Sunday morning.
“It’s been a little hectic obviously,” Wile said. “We booked my flight, an 11:10 [a.m.] flight, at 10:20. So it was a quick turnaround, that’s for sure.”
The Vikings had a little more lead time targeting the 26-year-old Wile, who replaces the released Ryan Quigley and becomes the Vikings’ third punter in three seasons. When Quigley struggled with just one quality punt in six attempts on Aug. 24 against the Seahawks, the Vikings began poring over NFL rosters to compile a list of punters who could be released, according to special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.
“There were just a couple guys we’d bring in to replace Ryan,” Priefer said, “and he was one of them.”
Wile’s range attracted the Vikings after he averaged 49 yards on eight punts in the Steelers’ preseason. He’s also capable of handling kickoffs and extra points, clearing two extra points for Pittsburgh when kicker Chris Boswell was held out of an exhibition last month. He’ll also hold for Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson.
“He’s got a big-time leg,” Priefer said. “We’d love to put that on display on Sunday. We’ll keep working with him as a holder.”
The plan for Cook
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was asked Thursday if running back Dalvin Cook will be on a pitch count entering his first full game in more than 11 months. His answer indicated the Vikings won’t go lightly with Cook but will stick to “a plan” regarding his playing time.
“We’ll see how it goes. There’s nothing that hasn’t told us he can’t carry the load,” DeFilippo said. “If there’s something during the game that comes up where he needs a blow, or he needs to come out of the football game, then we’ll handle that situation.”
Still his calls for now
Mike Zimmer is one of a few NFL head coaches who call defensive plays, but he said he still thinks “every day” about handing the duty off to defensive coordinator George Edwards because of the stress on Sundays. He said he persists because of confidence in his in-game adjustments and not wanting to second-guess Edwards, who did call some plays this preseason.
“I have a style of how I call a game,” Zimmer said. “George, even though he tries to do it like I do it, I don’t want to tell him I hate that call or you should’ve called this. I don’t think that’s fair to him. If I want something called, I should call it.”
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander (ankle) returned to practice Thursday for the first time since he stepped on linebacker Eric Kendricks’ foot in the Aug. 18 exhibition. He was limited.
Three other starters — left tackle Riley Reiff (foot), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) and center Pat Elflein (ankle/shoulder) — were still limited. Running back Roc Thomas (ankle) was the only Viking sidelined.
The 1998 Vikings team that went 15-1 during the regular season will be honored throughout Sunday’s season opener at U.S. Bank Stadium. Hall of Famers Randall McDaniel and John Randle, former All-Pro safety Robert Griffith and former offensive coordinator Brian Billick are among those expected to attend.