The Vikings got a second consecutive strong game from punter Jeff Locke in Sunday’s victory at Carolina. Locke averaged 48.4 yards per kick and benefited from strong coverage –including the addition of receiver Cordarrelle Patterson as a gunner — for a net of 45.6 yards.
Special teams coach Mike Priefer on Friday said it was probably Locke’s best game in his four seasons with the Vikings.
“Jeff’s a smart guy, but a lot of kickers and punters and snappers, they like to over analyze and overthink stuff,” Priefer said “Jeff’s biggest issue a year ago, especially at the old stadium, outdoor stadium, is he would overthink the winds a lot of times. One of the things we worked on this offseason was going back to basics, going back to the fundamentals, working a little bit more during the week … on the fundamental aspect of punting, the drop, the angle of the approach, the set pattern, all the basic stuff he needs to do consistently to be a good punter.”
Patterson was a big help to Locke, downing a 58-yard punt at the 2 and tackling Ted Ginn for a 1-yard loss on a 50-yarder. Priefer thought about using Patterson as a gunner, “Probably about a year ago. He wasn’t playing much in the offense, such a great athlete, no reason not to put him out there. Wasn’t sure if he was very comfortable with that idea a year ago.”
“We started to do some of that in training camp, but he wasn’t healthy, he had that shoulder problem.”
The highlight for the special teams was Marcus Sherels’ 54-yard punt return TD; the lowlight was another missed extra point by Blair Walsh.
“He needs to approach it like it’s a short field goal, that’s what it is,” Priefer said. “His mind set has to be the same for an extra point as it is for any type of field goal. Physically he’s got all the tools. It’s between the ears right now and something we talked about this week.
“I feel very confident in him going forward. I don’t know what else to tell you right now.”