In the Vikings’ third preseason game against the Cardinals, jobs will be on the line.
Three special teams positions — punter, kicker, holder — are still undetermined as the Vikings inch closer to the season opener. The only position set is at long snapper, where seventh-round pick Austin Cutting beat out former starter Kevin McDermott who was cut.
Against Seattle, the Vikings rotated kicker Dan Bailey and punter/kicker Kaare Vedvik. Bailey hit a 24-yard field goal and converted an extra point, while Vedvik also made an extra point try. On punts, Vedvik had three chances while Matt Wile had one.
It’s the same story during practice, the Vikings are rotating around on special teams throughout the week. Bailey went 6-for-6 on field goals Wednesday, his longest was from 50 yards out. Vedvik went 5-for-6 on Thursday, missing a 45-yard field goal. He did, however, convert from 50 and 55 yards.
Vedvik is the outlying case as the Vikings decide whether they want him to punt, kick or whatever they need him to do. The team’s also deciding what to do at holder — Wile or wide receiver Chad Beebe?
“The key for Kaare’s success is we narrow down what fits us and what he’s really good at, and that’s where he gets his reps,” special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf said. “It’s so hard to ask one guy to do everything.”
Coach Mike Zimmer said there’s no timetable for the Vikings’ final decision. That leaves Saturday’s preseason game as another chance for Bailey, Vedvik and others to state their case for potential jobs.
“In an ideal world, we want to make it as soon as possible,” Maalouf said. “But we want to make the right choice, the right decision. That’s the most important thing. If it goes into Week 4, it goes into Week 4.”
Making calls quickly
Thursday’s two-minute drill wasn’t just for the players, but also for offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
Zimmer noted that midgame, Stefanski usually receives help from other voices during certain situations.
But on the practice field during the simulation, it’s just Stefanski out there as he continues to adjust to play-calling duties.
“It gives him the opportunity to practice and being put into all these situations,” Zimmer said. “All those things, not only help him, but help our team.”
Defensive back Harrison Smith was held out of practice Thursday for an undisclosed reason. Offensive tackle Brian O’Neill was again limited.
Offensive tackle Aviante Collins, defensive end Ade Aruna and wide receiver Jeff Badet were held out of practice.