Vikings Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer
Q: Can a long snapper be a leader on a football team?
A: He can definitely be a leader among the specialists obviously. I think Cullen (Loeffler) has earned the right, it being his 10th year in the league this year, to be a leader on this team. I think his personality is such that people look up to him a little bit, some of the younger guys do. He is only going to give advice when asked; he is not one of those pushy types of guys. He leads by example; he has great work ethic, a great attitude. I make it a point to ask him questions during meetings, so guys can hear him speak who do not know him very well. I think he is a very likeable guy, I think players respond to him. I do believe he can be a leader.
A: Oh most definitely. In fact, when we drafted Jeff (Locke) I made a point to call him right away. I called Blair, but I called Cullen first and I said, “OK, here is where we are at, and here is what my plan is, our plan is, as an organization,” and how Cullen fits into that, and being a leader is definitely a part of that.
Q: Does Cullen Loeffler take over a leadership role with the special team’s guys in practice?
A: Yeah, a little bit. Each guy is a little separate in terms of the techniques and fundamentals that they have to work on, but I think Cullen, he leads the way by his work ethic and example. He never complains, just comes out to work every day, practice and gets his job done.
Q: How many bad snaps have you seen Cullen make?
A: I would not say any of them are really bad. He’s had a couple of what I call less than perfect snaps. I hate to say bad. Bad snaps are over your head or you have no chance. He has had a few less than perfect snaps, but for the most part he has been spot on.
Q: What did you see out of
A: Well we moved the ball early, which is why we did not get a lot of opportunities early. But we had to the two plus 50 punts early, the one fair caught at the 10 and one at the 7, which were outstanding punts. His first field punt was a 48 yarder with a 4.6 second hang time, which is a good punt. His last two punts were not very good.
Q: How would you assess Jeff’s holds on the field goals?
A: The holds were good. The snap, the hold, the whole operation was good.
Q: How does things change in the special teams department from week one of the preseason going into week two?
A: There are probably a handful of guys that we did not play on special teams, like Jarmarca Sanford and
Q: How do you keep
A: The first thing is I have never believed in a jinx, or been very superstitious. If you had seen me in baseball you would understand why I wasn’t superstitious; didn’t matter what I did I was terrible. Overall, I think Blair has approached this season with more confidence, with a different focus than he had a year ago, understanding that he had a great year but he still has a lot to prove. As everybody in this room knows you are only as good as last kick. So he takes it very, very seriously, with his work ethic, the work he does with Cullen and Jeff are very important to him, and obviously his kickoffs are already season ready. I knew he was stronger, and he bombed the ball the other night. We are going to continue to work on the field goal operation and hopefully will be more and more comfortable as the season wears on.
Q: What units are
A: I believe he played in all four core phases the other day and he did a good job. There are a lot of young guys that know that special teams is their ticket to make this football team. Zach, among others, has taken the bull by the horns so to speak and done a nice job in practice and in that first game.
Q: Have there been any other players who have stuck out to you on special teams?
A: You know if I sat up here and told you them all I would probably forget a guy and I don’t want to do that right now to be honest with you. I hope you are okay with that, but I just don’t want to mention too many names without forgetting unless you ask me about someone specifically because we still have three more weeks to go. I don’t want to have anybody to read what we write or what you guys write and say maybe I am not getting that shot I deserve, but we are trying to give as many guys a shot as possible. I love our work ethic, our roster has a bunch of high character guys that football is important to and I am excited about where we are at.
Q: How has
A: I think Stephen has had a solid camp. He has really improved, his confidence is sky high compared to what it was his first two years, especially his first year when he could not catch punts. Now he is catching punts and kickoffs clean, he almost broke that other one the other night, as he did a great job of bouncing it outside when they cut off the inside. I think he is just more confident, and I think a guy like Stephen being more confident means he is going to play more up to his ability.
Q: Do you feel comfortable with Stephen Burton taking punts for you this season?
A: I think, like I said a couple of weeks ago, with Stephen and the rest of the young returners it is going to be an issue of evaluating them on the preseason games. The other night he passed the first test and hopefully Friday night against Buffalo he will do the same thing.
Q: Do you think
A: He may not have been as excited as I was, I was pretty excited. Yeah, it was real close. If you watch on tape the kicker doesn’t really touch him. Cordarrelle makes a move and trips and the backside ones coming and we can’t really get to him. The front side one;
Q: How do you see
A: Joe has been working extremely hard and it is all brand new to him and obviously he has not done this before especially at the NFL level and he is doing a great job in terms of learning. He sits up front in meeting and asks good questions, and is doing drill work well. He got a few reps the other night in the Texans game, and I think we are going to keep working him at the ones spot on kickoff coverage, the safety, gunner, as inside man as the vice, the hold up, and on kickoff returner he is a pretty decent front line blocker too. I mean he has got a ways to go with his technique, attitude and work ethic are there.