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Special Teams Look Solid in Debut

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Something that shouldn't be overlooked from Friday: The Vikings were clicking on special teams from start to finish.  After a horrible 2008 season that featured the Vikes giving up 14.9 yards per punt return (good enough for 32nd place in the NFL) while allowing seven total touchdowns on special teams (good enough for an NFL record), things looked quite a bit better on Friday night.

The kickoff coverage was tremendous, as not a single Indy kickoff return went for beyond 18 yards.  And although a decent punt return was given up late in the game, it was coming off a 58 yard Chris Kluwe punt.

Meanwhile, Jaymar Johnson was competent but unspectacular in his role as punt returner.  He never displayed an ability to make the first defenders miss, and as a result finished the game with an 8.3 yard average on five returns.  But more than anything, I want someone dependable back there fielding punts.  Someone who won't turn the ball over.  He might not break the big play, but Johnson at least seems to be a reliable returner.

The big question is how Percy Harvin fits into the punt and kickoff return games.  He's been shaky in Mankato when fielding punts, but he has shown improvement and was also taking many kickoff returns during camp.

But going back to Friday's game, it didn't take long to establish the two key players on the kickoff and punt coverage units: Eric Frampton and Heath Farwell.  All three of Frampton's tackles came on special teams (oh, by the way, he also nabbed the Vikings' lone interception of the game).  And with Farwell back on the field, the difference between Friday and last season was like night and day.  Not only do both Frampton and Farwell give the Vikings an excellent shot of not being lousy on special teams again -- they give the special teams a shot of actually being good.