youngest in 24-year-old Marcus Mariota. The 16-year age gap

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youngest in 24-year-old Marcus Mariota. The 16-year age gap

Postautor: elaine95 » 10 paź 2019, 8:20

EAGAN , Minn. �? The Minnesota Vikings have spent the first part of training camp in an all-too-familiar search for stability with their specialists for the kicking game, an issue that has persisted over most of the time sixth-year head coach Mike Zimmer has supervised the team.More Vikings coveragePreview: Cook, Vikings look to keep rolling vs. PackersTop Tweets: Vikings prepare for Packers with TMNT hype videoBarr, seasoned Vikings defense off to strong startNew offense, same Rodgers: Vikings prep for LaFleur’s PackersVikings re-sign center Jones, waive rookie TE DillonTheir latest attempt to address the problem could wind up as a dual solution, if Kaare Vedvik can develop into a reliable NFL performer in a pressure-packed role.For now, though, regardless of who lines up to kick and drops back to punt in the regular season and beyond, the priority for Zimmer and new special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf over the rest of the month will be to first establish a rhythm with those ever-important snaps and holds.If the ball doesn’t arrive just right, after all, a booming leg doesn’t matter much.To make room for Vedvik, who was acquired Sunday in a trade with Baltimore, the Vikings made the long-expected move of releasing long snapper Kevin McDermott to formally hand the job to rookie Austin Cutting. McDermott, a seventh-year veteran, held that role for the past four seasons, even returning to one game last year after losing a fingertip in the scrum on the line of scrimmage.“We figured we had to get the battery down so we weren’t using two snappers in and out, because we kind of worked on this operation, the field goal and things like that,” Zimmer said Monday after Vedvik took part in his first practice with the Vikings. “It’s not anything Kevin did. Kevin was a terrific team guy. Unbelievable person. It’s just the way it goes sometimes.”Cutting, a seventh-round draft pick from Air Force who received permission from the military to perform his two-year service requirement in a recruiting office in the Twin Cities area, was in a rather sober mood as he spoke to reporters about the situation after his first business-of-football experience of seeing his mentor McDermott discarded.Cutting was chosen for the underappreciated position as the cheaper Justin Layne Jersey , younger and more athletic option who, according to Zimmer, also snaps with a bit more velocity than his predecessor.“There is such a thing as too many reps, but not right now, so it’s good to be able to get in there and get used to everyone and all that,” Cutting said.Incumbent punter Matt Wile was the holder last season, and he struggled at times in his first year in the role. As camp began last month, the Vikings even gave wide receivers Chad Beebe and Adam Thielen a few turns, clearly not committed to Wile as the ball-catcher for kicker Dan Bailey on field goals and extra points. Now Wile has a cut on his finger, an injury suffered in the exhibition game Friday that required stitches, so he didn’t so much as touch a ball during practice Monday.Vedvik did, connecting on a pair of field goals off a tee from 60 yards out on a side field that prompted the type of loud cheers from the crowd that is usually reserved for long touchdown passes.“I don’t really look at the distance. I just kind of kick it and try to make it through,” Vedvik said, downplaying the leg strength that has previously resulted in a 70-yard make in practice.Vedvik, whose first name is pronounced KOHR-ee, is a native of Norway who spent 2018 on the non-football injury list with the Ravens after suffering head and facial injuries in an apparent assault during a night out in Baltimore at the end of the preseason. He was a first-team All-Conference USA selection as a senior from Marshall in 2017, making 10 of 16 field goals with a long of 45 yards, converting 41 of 42 extra points and averaging 44 yards per punt with a long of 92 yards.Vedvik first came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student in Kansas, where he put his soccer skills to use on the football field after some encouragement by his host family. He eventually parlayed a strong performance at several kicking camps into a scholarship at Marshall. Now he’s with the Vikings, an appropriate team for a player with Norwegian roots.So is he a punter? A kicker? Both? He’s not picky.“I’m an athlete. I come in here, and I go to work,” Vedvik said. “Whatever I can do to contribute , whatever I can do to help this team win games and go to the Super Bowl, that’s what I want to do.”For the Vikings to finally win a Super Bowl, they’re going to need to figure out these specialist roles that have been in flux for years.The Vikings drafted kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round in 2012 and watched him make the Pro Bowl as a rookie after taking over for stalwart Ryan Longwell, who is third on the franchise’s career scoring list with 633 points in six seasons and holds the Vikings career record with an 86% field goal conversion rate.They took the same tack the following year with punter Jeff Locke, replacing Chris Kluwe, but Walsh began to slump after getting a contract extension and then infamously missed the 27-yard field goal in the playoff game at home after the 2015 season that he never recovered from.Kai Forbath replaced Walsh in 2016 and fared relatively well in 2017 with Ryan Quigley as the punter and holder, but the Vikings changed both spots in 2018 with rookie kicker Daniel Carlson and the punter Wile.Then Carlson was dumped after two games, and Bailey entered the picture. Vedvik will likely replace Wile, but who knows? He could wind up as the kicker eventually, too, if not this year then perhaps in the future.“We need to get it figured out,” Zimmer said. FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Maybe the Tennessee Titans are coming up for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at the perfect time.After a drama-filled week , the quarterback says his focus remains solely on football as his team prepares to host the Titans in Saturday’s divisional round.During Brady’s tenure the Patriots are 6-1 against the Titans. He has 13 passing touchdowns and one interception in those games — his best touchdown to interception ratio against any opponent in his career.He also is 6-0 against Mike Mularkey-coached teams.But that hasn’t changed the approach for Brady, who is preparing for his 35th playoff start in the aftermath of recent reports suggesting discord between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.In a joint statement last week, all three men brushed aside any insinuation of strife at the top of one of the NFL’s jewel franchises. Brady reiterated on Thursday that his mind remains on the field.“We do what we always do. We show up to work and try to do the best we can do,” he said. “We know there’s a lot at stake and I think everyone’s put a lot into it. It doesn’t really matter what happened outside of this facility.”Patriots receiver Danny Amendola hasn’t noticed any change in Brady.“He’s the ultimate professional and he (makes) his teammates better and he demands a lot,” Amendola said. “We all want to win for him, and we all want to play hard for him.”Tennessee recognizes the challenge it faces against Brady. It opened the week as a 13-point underdog, and prior to last week hadn’t won a playoff game since the 2003 season.That doesn’t mean the Titans fear the Patriots.“It’s a playoff game, so it’s not like it’s the preseason where I can go out there Zach Gentry Jersey , `Oh, it’s Brady,’ and I’m chillin,'” Tennessee All-Pro safety Kevin Byard said. “This is a playoff game. So I don’t really care if it was Joe Montana. You know what I’m saying? I’m trying to go out there and win the game. I want to make him look like (Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback) Blake Bortles if I can to try to catch a couple picks.“Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but it’s a playoff game. I’m not really looking at it like that.”The contrast in quarterbacks will be stark.At age 40, Brady is the oldest remaining quarterback in the playoffs. The Titans have the youngest in 24-year-old Marcus Mariota. The 16-year age gap between them is the largest between starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in NFL history.Since 2001, quarterbacks making their first or second career playoff start are 0-7 against New England.“I think it just comes down to how well you play,” Brady said. “At the end of the day, it’s not about old guys are going to win or young guys are going to win, the home team, the road team. It’s really going to come down to execution. No one’s going to be able to do it for you.”If the Titans have any hope of slowing down Brady, the X factor might be defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.With Belichick as head coach, he and LeBeau have faced off in the playoffs once: the 2004 AFC championship game that New England won in Pittsburgh, 41-27.Brady had two touchdown passes in that game, but was also sacked twice.“The one thing you got to try to do is not let him read you like a book, which he’s very adept at,” LeBeau said. “Whether you’re pressuring or whether you’re going coverage, if he knows where you’re going, he’s probably going to be pretty effective.”Brady isn’t taking anything for granted.“These are fun games to play in,” he said. “You’re out there, you’re in the position to succeed. Your coaches have put a lot on you. The team’s really relying on you. You’ve got to go out there and make the plays.”
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