Last month, the Vikings brought in a pair of rookie punters for a weekend tryout at Winter Park. But they opted to not sign either of them, leaving fourth-year veteran Jeff Locke as the only punter on their roster.
After today’s OTA at Winter Park, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said the Vikings haven’t ruled out adding another punter at some point.
The performance of Locke this spring will be the determining factor.
“I think it depends on how Jeff does the rest of the spring and how comfortable [G.M.] Rick [Spielman] is and how comfortable Coach [Mike] Zimmer is and we’ll talk about that as the spring goes on,” he said. “We had two good, young rookie punters at minicamp who performed very, very well so we know those guys are out there if we need to go that route.”
Texas Tech’s Taylor Symmank and West Virginia’s Nick O’Toole, the two punters who auditioned at rookie minicamp, have not signed elsewhere.
After the 2015 season ended, Priefer challenged Locke, who is now in the final year of his contract, to be a more consistent punter. Priefer said he has liked what he has seen from Locke in that area so far this spring.
“He’s actually come back strong,” Priefer said. “He’s a very good punter. People want to look at the total numbers and the raw numbers from last year, but he punted in TCF for eight regular season games and a playoff game. And if you compare the numbers to the [opponent’s punter] on those certain days, he punted just as good as or better than them.”
Priefer later added: “I feel very confident about Jeff going forward.”