There will be a battle at long snapper during Vikings training camp next week, and it’s expected to last into the preseason.
The Vikings signed Kevin McDermott to compete with 12-year veteran Cullen Loeffler for the starting job. Loeffler was the lowest graded long snapper by Pro Football Focus last season. He was accurate on 79.9 percent of his snaps. Loeffler’s worst snap of the season happened in Week 16 against the Dolphins on a blocked punt for a safety with less than a minute left in a tie game.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said he challenged Loeffler during the offseason to improve his rotation, location and velocity. He was pleased with Loeffler’s progress during OTAs and minicamp.
“I think he wore down a little bit as the season wore on last year and I think he came back strong,” Priefer said. “You know, Cullen is a great guy and he’s very competitive and he’s very passionate about what he does and he’s got a great work ethic.”
McDermott, in his third season, was punter Jeff Locke’s long snapper at UCLA. He spent his first two seasons with the 49ers and Ravens. Priefer said McDermott has also performed well during the spring and plans to split the snaps evenly during the preseason.
“Kevin has come in and the chemistry between all four of these guys has been fantastic,” Priefer said. “Kevin and Cullen, they’re both wonderful young men and they compete hard, but they also help each other out, they’re very encouraging with each other, they’re great in the locker room, so whatever one we decide to go with, I think we’re in good shape. I know we’re in good shape.
It’s one of those positions you only notice when something bad happens. This competition likely won’t be on the radar of most Vikings fans, but it’s still something to keep an eye on.