Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer announced today that Joe Marciano, a longtime NFL special teams coach who was with the Texans last season, will be the team’s interim special teams coach while special teams coordinator Mike Priefer serves his suspension at the start of the regular season.
Marciano has coached 28 years in the NFL and spent the last 12 with the Texans, who let him go when they fired head coach Gary Kubiak after the 2013 season, and had been with them since their inception. Zimmer said that Marciano was “kind of retired,” making him a true interim option.
“He was gracious enough to come up here and help us out, and I appreciate that a lot,” he said.
Marciano joined the team in Mankato yesterday and was out on the field with Priefer and special teams assistant Ryan Ficken for today’s morning walkthrough. He will be at practice this afternoon.
“He’s a great guy. Very, very knowledgeable,” Zimmer said. “We felt like in our thinking that it would be good to get someone in here the next three weeks of camp to get a feel of exactly how we’re doing things, where we can continue to speak the same language and have some veteran experience for the first couple of ballgames, especially with me being a new head coach.”
Priefer was suspended three games by the Vikings for making an anti-gay comment during the 2012 season. Priefer can coach in the preseason, but must be away from the team once the regular season starts. His suspension can be reduced to two games if he attends sensitivity training.
Priefer had input in the conversations about his interim replacement, but he did not have the final say in the decision. He said that he has a “great deal of mutual respect” for Marciano, who coached against both Priefer and his father, Chuck, who was a longtime special teams coach in the league.
“It was something we had talked about probably a week or so before training camp. I think it’s a great idea,” said Priefer, who is in his fourth season with the Vikings. “Again, I’ve said that I think Ryan can handle it. There’s no doubt in my mind he can. I can understand why we’d bring in a veteran coach. The fact that Joe was available was a benefit and a plus for us.”