No sooner did yours truly get a 90-man roster done up for the Minnesota Vikings, under the assumption that there weren’t going to be any significant changes coming, did the team decide to potentially change that.
According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Vikings will be bringing in at least two punters on Wednesday, when the team will be taking part in their mandatory minicamp. The punters named by Tomasson are Justin Vogel and Shane Tripucka, and there could also be a third. One of them could be signed to compete with incumbent Matt Wile during Training Camp.
Vogel punted for the Green Bay Packers in 2017, playing with the team for all 16 of their games. He was eighth in the NFL that year in net punting average at 41.6 yards/punt. He has not punted in the regular season since 2017, but has been signed by the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers over the past couple of years.
Tripucka, the nephew of former NBA player Kelly Tripucka, has never punted in a regular season game. He went undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2018 and spent the preseason with the Los Angeles Chargers before being let go.
Wile was tied for ninth in the league in net punting average in 2018, averaging 41.5 yards/punt. According to Tomasson’s article, the concerns appear to be more with Wile’s ability to be the holder on field goals and extra points than with his punting abilities. Based on that, it sounds like new special teams coach Marwan Maalouf will continue along the same road that Mike Priefer did with the Vikings, using the punter as a holder rather than a backup quarterback.
In looking for pictures to use for this article, I did see pictures of Vogel holding on kicks when he was with the Packers in 2017. It appears as though Tripucka handled those duties in college as well.
So, it appears as though there’s a chance that we’re going to have a big ol’ punting competition in Training Camp this year, folks. Tell me that doesn’t get the blood pumping, I dare you.