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Thread: Vikings: Undrafted punter Taylor Symmank could be signed to compete with Jeff Locke

  1. #1
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    Vikings: Undrafted punter Taylor Symmank could be signed to compete with Jeff Locke




    Minnesota Vikings placekicker Blair Walsh, right, and punter Jeff Locke participate in a team workout at Winter Park in Eden Prairie on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

    By CHRIS TOMASSON | ctomasson@pioneerpress.com
    May 8, 2016 | UPDATED: 1 day ago


    The Vikings could sign undrafted rookie free-agent punter Taylor Symmank as soon as Monday to compete with incumbent Jeff Locke.

    Minnesota brought Symmank, who averaged 46 yards per punt last season at Texas Tech, to a weekend rookie mini-camp along with Nick O’Toole, undrafted out of West Virginia. The plan was for the two punters to compete and one perhaps be signed.

    O’Toole departed the Twin Cities following Sunday’s final workout. Symmank stayed Sunday night and could end up battling Locke during spring drills and training camp.

    “I have to come in and get a physical (Monday),’’ Symmank said. “That’s what they told me to do. … They told me they’re still working out (roster) numbers and everything is being thought about at this point.’’

    Symmank called it encouraging he was asked to stay over and take a physical. If Symmank is signed, he would expect to remain in the Twin Cities for spring drills.

    The Vikings have 89 players on their offseason roster, one shy of the NFL limit of 90, so there is room now to add Symmank. There might be other tryout players from camp they have interest in signing, however players under contract could be released to create room.

    Locke averaged 41.6 yards gross per punt in 2015, his third season, to rank last in the NFL. That was down from the 44.2 average he had in each of his first two years.

    Locke has one year left on his contract that is not guaranteed, and the Vikings want to bring in competition for him. Locke’s salary-cap number is $721,048, and it only would count $46,048 against them if he were to be let go.

    Symmank said he is fully recovered from a strained hip that forced him to miss four games last season. He said the three-day camp went well.

    “It was really fun,’’ he said. “It was a great opportunity. … It was a little disappointing (not initially being signed to a free-agent contract after being undrafted), but I’m thankful the Vikings gave me an opportunity. So that’s all I can ask for I guess at this point.’’



  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    The signing of a punter to compete with Locke is a situation that bears watching. The Vikings could certainly use an upgrade at that position after getting two seasons of sub par performances from Locke.

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    Looks like Ben LeCompte, the punter from NDSU, has signed with the Bears.

    From his twitter account:

    BBLIVVerified account@lecomptey19
    Unbelievably excited to announce that I've signed a contract with the Chicago Bears. #beardown


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    With Priefer confident in Jeff Locke, no plans (for now) to add rookie punter
    By Matt Vensel
    JUNE 1, 2016 — 12:40PM

    http://www.startribune.com/with-priefer-confident-in-locke-no-plans-for-now-to-sign-rookie-punter/381540001/

    Last month, the Vikings brought in a pair of rookie punters for a weekend tryout at Winter Park. But they opted to not sign either of them, leaving fourth-year veteran Jeff Locke as the only punter on their roster.

    After today’s OTA at Winter Park, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said the Vikings haven’t ruled out adding another punter at some point.

    The performance of Locke this spring will be the determining factor.

    “I think it depends on how Jeff does the rest of the spring and how comfortable [G.M.] Rick [Spielman] is and how comfortable Coach [Mike] Zimmer is and we’ll talk about that as the spring goes on,” he said. “We had two good, young rookie punters at minicamp who performed very, very well so we know those guys are out there if we need to go that route.”

    Texas Tech’s Taylor Symmank and West Virginia’s Nick O’Toole, the two punters who auditioned at rookie minicamp, have not signed elsewhere.

    After the 2015 season ended, Priefer challenged Locke, who is now in the final year of his contract, to be a more consistent punter. Priefer said he has liked what he has seen from Locke in that area so far this spring.

    “He’s actually come back strong,” Priefer said. “He’s a very good punter. People want to look at the total numbers and the raw numbers from last year, but he punted in TCF for eight regular season games and a playoff game. And if you compare the numbers to the [opponent’s punter] on those certain days, he punted just as good as or better than them.”

    Priefer later added: “I feel very confident about Jeff going forward.”


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