Vedvik creating competition on Vikings' special teams
EAGAN (FOX 9) - Specialist Kaare Vedvik has been a busy man in the week that's passed since he was brought into Minnesota Vikings Training Camp.
The Vikings traded a 2020 draft pick last week to the Baltimore Ravens to get Vedvik, who is the very definition of a specialist. He's a punter, a kicker, holds field goal attempts and does kickoffs. It's now the job of Marwan Maalouf, the Vikings' special teams coordinator, to see where he fits best with Minnesota as it approaches the Sept. 8 opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Vikings already released long snapper Kevin McDermott in favor of rookie Austin Cutting. With the addition of Vedvik, punter Matt Wile could be looking at a short future in Minnesota. Wile didn't see the field Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks. Chad Beebe took on holding duties, and Vedvik made an extra point during the third quarter.
It was his first experience inside U.S. Bank Stadium.
"It felt amazing, coming out and dressing in the new uniform and everything, getting to see the fan base and get to feel the energy," Vedvik said after practice Wednesday. "So it was truly amazing, the stadium was great."
So will Vedvik kick? Punt? Hold? All of the above? The simple answer is we don't know yet. Quite frankly, neither do Maalouf or the coaches, and that's why he's getting practice in all areas of being a specialist.
"He could be good at everything. I think the key for Kaare's success is that we narrow down what fits us and what he's really good at, and then that's where he gets his reps," Maalouf said. "It's so hard to ask one guy to do everything. If we can carve out the right roles for him, I think he'll help us."
Vedvik took over kicking duties at Tuesday's practice, and did well in both sessions. Wile was the holder for both of his sessions, and Vedvik finished 5-of-6 for the day. He started with makes from 33, 37 and 41 yards. He went 2-of-3 in his second session, with makes from 43 yards on the left hash and 46 yards on the right hash before missing wide right from 50 yards out.
He got one last kick into finish a situational drill Tuesday. With the game tied 10-10, the Vikings' offense got the ball to near midfield. Vedvik came on for what would've been a 59-yard game-winner. It was down the middle, but came up just short.
Maalouf says he likes what he sees so far.
"He's very smooth, obviously he didn't make every single one, but he made a majority of them, which is really good. I think him getting the experience with both holders, Matt held for him yesterday and we've got to get him reps with Beebe at some point as well," Maalouf said. "I'm very pleased with what we saw there."
It was Dan Bailey's turn to kick on Wednesday, with Wile holding in the first session and Beebe holding the second session. The holder didn't matter for Bailey, who finished a perfect 6-of-6. It was his second perfect session kicking since the start of Training Camp. His makes in the first session were from 33, 39 and 42 yards. The second session makes were from 44, 46 and 50 yards.
The Vikings will use Vedvik wherever they see fit, which could include kickoffs. He had at least one touchback Sunday night against the Seahawks.
We don't know when that decision will be made, or what the decision will be. The most likely scenario is to have Vedvik kickoff and punt. The difficulty of the preseason is that the Vikings have only punted six times, creating a small sample size for two competitors.
Maalouf said it's a competition that will sort itself out, and it's a good problem to have.
"Everybody's gotten punt reps, so the good thing is we got them both exposure. He wants to take very rep, so does Matt. They want to take all the reps. Dan wants to take all the reps," Maalouf said. "They want to keep working, reeling them back is more so during practice and even during warm-ups."
Vedvik said the first day he got to Minnesota he just wants to contribute in any way he can.
"Whatever I can do to contribute or whatever I can do to help this team win games and go to the Super Bowl, that's what I want to do. I love them both, I have a passion for both," Vedvik said.
Saturday afternoon against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium could be an indicator of what Vedvik's role might be with the Vikings this season.