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For Vikings’ ‘Bubble’ Players, Great Special Teams Play Crucial

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(credit: CBS) David McCoy
David McCoy joined the WCCO-TV sports team in March 2013 as a report...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With so many Minnesota Vikings players on the bubble, it’s not head coach Leslie Frazier they need to impress most to make the team. It’s also not the offensive or defensive coordinator — or even the guy that coaches the position they play. It’s special teams coach Mike Priefer.

“Obviously as a young guy, or a guy that’s on the bubble, when it comes down to it, special teams is what you’re going to be playing,” safety and special teamer Andrew Sendejo said. “So, when it comes down to making the final roster, they’re gonna say, ‘can this guy play teams or not?'”

So, what does it take to impress Priefer?

“A lot,” cornerback Marcus Sherels said. “I mean, he’s a great coach and does a great job with every one.”

The fact is the third-string linebacker isn’t going to make the team based on how well he plays linebacker. It’s how well he plays special teams.

That means there might not be anybody with a bigger say in how the Vikings roster is formed, than Preifer.

“We do a great job in our personnel department and they have to make the final decisions, I understand that, but at the end of the day, at least I’m heard,” Priefer said.

There are certain things he looks for, of course.

“Productivity. On coverage, you want a guy you can trust that’s going to be in the right spot and have the right leverage, that’s going to be able to tackle,” Priefer said.

That can be especially interesting when the guy tackling plays offense.

“I think when it comes down to either running back A or running back B, it’s the guy that can tackle,” Priefer said.

That’s especially true in preseason games, where Priefer bases 60 percent of his evaluation. So, these next two games are make-or-break for bubble guys.

“Who can help us beat Detroit in September? Those are the guys we want to make the team,” Priefer said.

The Vikings have to cut their roster down to 75 Tuesday and the final cut day is Aug. 31 — when teams have to be down to 53 players.

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