Once a week, Mark Craig will get on and off the field quickly, then focus a spotlight on a player and a coach.

On the field with ...

Mike Priefer, Vikings special teams coordinator

Question: If the NFL is so concerned about player safety on kickoffs, why not just eliminate the play altogether?

Answer: “The fans love it. The players love it. It’s been part of our game for 100 years. We’re making it safer by changing the rules. Why would you want to take it out? If you want to put the ball at the 30 to start out, it just becomes a high school jamboree. That’s what it would end up being. It’s a high school game. Or a Pop Warner game. That’s not real football. That’s not NFL football. I don’t even watch the Pro Bowl [which eliminated kickoffs]. It’s a waste of time because it’s not real football.”

OFF the field with ...

Kevin McDermott, Vikings long snapper

Question: You spent your rookie season [2013] with the 49ers, who you face on Sunday. Can you compare the cost of living in downtown San Francisco to downtown Minneapolis?

Answer: (Laughter) “At one point in San Francisco, Lauren, my fiancé at the time and now my wife, had an apartment in the city, and I had an apartment in Santa Clara, where the team was. Her apartment was 500 square feet with no air conditioning or heat. Our bed was in the closet. And it was $2,100 a month. I was paying $2,000 a month in Santa Clara, and had a roommate. Now, Lauren and I own a condo in downtown Minneapolis. Let’s just say our mortgage is significantly less than what Lauren’s rent alone was in San Francisco.”

Spotlight player and coach

Khalil Mack, LB, Chicago

Prime time. At Green Bay. Week 1 vs. Aaron Rodgers. What better way to see what kind of bang for their buck the Bears got when they paid two first-round picks and $90M guaranteed on the 27-year-old All-Pro and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year? The league’s premier edge rusher might not be ready to play an entire game, but he could send immediate shock waves through the NFC North.


Matt Patricia, Detroit coach

No rookie head coach faces more Week 1 pressure than Detroit’s Matt Patricia. The former longtime Patriots defensive coordinator inherited a 9-7 team. He’s at home, on “Monday Night Football,” as a 6½-point favorite. And he’s facing a Jets team starting rookie Sam Darnold, who, at 21, will be the youngest quarterback to start a game in Week 1 since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. A win is expected. A loss would be same-old, same-old for the Lions and Bill Belichick disciples.